A Los Angeles Police Department officer will serve 16 months in prison for assaulting a South L.A. woman in a 2012 incident that was caught on video by a police cruiser camera.
After a Los Angeles jury watched the footage of Officer Mary O’Callaghan, 50, brutally handling Alesia Thomas, 35, who died in the hospital shortly after, they determined that O’Callaghan used unnecessary force, reports the LA Times.
O’Callaghan’s sentence is one of many during a time when law enforcement agencies nationwide face police brutality allegations.
Last month, the jury convicted O’Callaghan of assault under the color of authority. While the officer never faced a trial for Thomas’ death, the court sentenced her to 36 months in jail for the assault, although the last 20 months of her sentence were suspended. She could be out in as little as four and a half months, according to her attorney Robert Rico, who plans to appeal the sentence.
Officers put Thomas under arrest on July 22, 2012, after they went to her home and investigated claims that she had abandoned her children.
In the video of the incident, O’Callaghan hits Thomas in the throat with an open hand and threatens to kick her in the crotch. Then, O’Callaghan raises her boot and strikes Thomas, whose body visibly jolts.
Inside the police car, Thomas breathes heavily and repeatedly says, “I can’t.”
Thomas asked officers for an ambulance, although they reportedly did not call for one for more than 30 minutes after her request. She became unconscious a few minutes after the video was taken, and she died in the hospital.
The coroner who performed the autopsy determined that cocaine was a “major factor” that contributed to her death; however, the coroner could not determine how the altercation with O’Callaghan might have contributed to her death, and the official cause of death is “undetermined.”
“It should be clear to everyone that the LAPD and the criminal justice system will hold officers accountable for their actions when they operate outside the law,” said Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck in an official statement, according to KTLA.
O'Callaghan had been with the LAPD for nearly 18 years.