LOS ANGELES (TheBlaze/AP) -- The Los Angeles Police Department is having a tough week. Yesterday, TheBlaze reported about two police officers who may have used excessive force when they body slammed a woman into the pavement.
Now, there's yet another story about police brutality brewing. At least five police officers are under investigation after a woman died during a violent arrest in which an officer stomped on her genitals, police Chief Charlie Beck said.
"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."
Alesia Thomas died July 22, after she left her 3-year-old and 12-year-old at a police station, surrendering custody because she was a drug addict who could not care for them, according to Deputy Chief Bob Green.
Police tracked down the South Los Angeles resident and were trying to arrest Thomas on suspicion of child endangerment, police said. The incident was caught on a patrol car camera.
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.
KTLA-TV is reporting that the woman suffocated to death during the incident:
The Los Angeles Times has more:
The department’s official account said the officers immediately notified paramedics. It is unclear whether the officers attempted to resuscitate her and how much time passed before paramedics arrived to render medical aid. Thomas died shortly after being transported to a hospital. [...]
Four police officers and the sergeant were removed from field duties immediately after the incident and investigators from the department’s Internal Affairs unit opened an investigation into the death, Green said. One arm of the investigation will collect evidence prosecutors will consider when deciding whether to bring criminal charges against any of the officers, while another will look into whether the officers violated the department’s policies on using force and other aspects of taking a suspect into custody.
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.
As mentioned, this is the second incident of alleged brutality that was caught on video and that is being investigated this week. In the previous case, two officers were shown slamming a handcuffed mother and wife to the ground. Beck announced Wednesday that he was transferring a captain from his command in response to that incident.