At least five police officers are under investigation after Alecia Thomas, 35, died during a violent arrest in which her ankles were bound and an officer stomped on her genitals, police Chief Charlie Beck said. The incident was caught on a patrol car camera.
“I take all in-custody death investigations very seriously,” LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said Thursday in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. “I am confident we will get to the truth no matter where that leads us.”
According to Deputy Chief Bob Green, Thomas left her 3-year-old and 12-year-old at a police station early in the morning of July 22. She reportedly surrendered custody because she said she was a drug addict who could not care for them.
Later that day, police tracked down Thomas and attempted to arrest her on suspicion of child endangerment, police said.
One officer knocked her to the ground by sweeping her legs out from beneath her and two other officers then handcuffed Thomas behind her back and attempted to lead her to a patrol car, according to the department’s official report. Two other officers also arrived at the scene.
Green said Thomas was a large woman and officers used a “hobble restraint device” – a strap that was wrapped around her ankles.Green confirmed to the Times that during the struggle to get Thomas into the back of the patrol car, a female officer kicked Thomas in the genitals.
Once Thomas was in the car, the video shows her breathing shallowly until she draws her last breath.
Beck wants to investigate whether she was intoxicated at the time of the altercation, or if her death may have been caused by a medical condition.
The LAPD has been under fire lately after an Aug. 21 incident in which officers slammed a handcuffed woman to the ground. That incident was also caught on take and Beck announced Wednesday that he was transferring a captain from his command in response.