A veteran Los Angeles police officer was sentenced Thursday to 16 months in jail after authorities said she kicked and struck a handcuffed woman who later died.
Mary O’Callaghan, 50, was sentenced to the maximum three years in jail. However, the judge suspended the last 20 months of the term.
O’Callaghan was found guilty of assault under color of authority during the 2012 arrest of 35-year-old Alesia Thomas.
Thomas needed help, “but what she got was violence,” prosecutor Shannon Presby told the court.
O’Callaghan apologized to Thomas’ mother before sentencing.
“Mother to mother, I am extremely sorry for the loss of your daughter,” O’Callaghan said.
O’Callaghan had been called to assist in the arrest of Thomas in a child abandonment case.
A dashboard camera in a police car recorded O’Callaghan making inappropriate comments, kicking Thomas in the groin, abdomen and upper thigh, and jabbing her in the throat.
Thomas appeared unable to sit up and could be heard saying, “I can’t breathe.” She lost consciousness and was pronounced dead at a hospital.
O’Callaghan, an 18-year veteran of the LAPD, was relieved of duty following an investigation into the death. Felony assault charges were filed against her in 2013.
O’Callaghan was not charged in connection with the death. An autopsy found Thomas had cocaine in her system, but the cause of death was listed as undetermined.
Defense attorney Robert Rico said he and O’Callaghan were disappointed by the maximum sentence and planned to file an appeal.
SOURCE: The Associated Press, Linda S. Zhang