LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – Los Angeles police are embroiled in another excessive force investigation after a mother of two died during a chaotic July arrest in which an officer kicked the woman in the groin while she was handcuffed, officials said.
The news follows a separate incident of alleged police misconduct in which a surveillance camera caught two LAPD officers body-slamming a handcuffed nurse to the ground and then exchanging a fist bump during an arrest last week.
“I take all in-custody death investigations very seriously and directed that the officers involved be removed from field duties until further details are known, including what part intoxicants and physical conditions contributed,” Chief Charlie Beck said in a statement regarding the July death.
“I’m confident we will get to the truth, no matter where that leads us,” he said.
Beck previously said he had “serious concerns” about the body-slamming incident and relieved both officers involved from field duties.
At least five officers are under investigation in the July 22 death of Alesia Thomas, a mother arrested for child endangerment after she abandoned her two children – ages 12 and 3 – at a police station, police said.
Thomas, 35, reportedly surrendered the kids around 2 a.m. because she had a substance abuse problem and felt she could not care for them.
“The officer said, ‘Hey, what are you kids doing here?’ They said, ‘Well our mom doesn’t want us anymore. She dropped us off at the police station,’” Cmdr. Andrew Smith told KTTV.
Smith said the children complained that they hadn’t eaten for a couple days.
Police tracked Thomas down at her residence in south Los Angeles and attempted to arrest her for child endangerment, according to an official LAPD account.
She “began actively resisting arrest,” cops said, so an officer performed a leg sweep and took Thomas to the ground to gain control.
Two others handcuffed Thomas behind her back and attempted to lead her to a patrol car while a supervising sergeant observed, police said.
Thomas reportedly continued to struggle with the officers and another unit was requested for assistance.
The officers placed a “hobble restraint device” – an adjustable strap – on her ankles and then placed her in a seated position in the back seat of the car, police said.
According to a police statement, officers noticed Thomas did not appear to be breathing within minutes of her placement in the car and immediately called paramedics.
The official account mentions questionable treatment but does not offer specifics.
According to the Times, a female officer threatened to kick Thomas in the genitals and then followed through on the threat during the struggle to get her in the car.
Once Thomas was in the vehicle, a video camera captured her breathing shallowly and looking distressed, the Times reported.
Thomas died shortly after being transported to a hospital.
A neighbor who witnessed some of the scuffle told The Times he did not see officers use excessive force.
“They were talking to her, asking her to calm down, that everything will be all right,” he recalled. They brought Thomas some water to drink,” neighbor Gerald McCrary Sr., 55, said.
He said Thomas broke free from plastic handcuffs at one point and complained that her heart hurt and she couldn’t walk.
LAPD brass are conducting two more probes of alleged police brutality – one involving former Fox TV chairman Brian Mulligan,
Mulligan has filed a $50 million claim against the city claiming he was beaten senseless by cops in a case of mistaken identity last May.
“His nose was fractured in 15 separate spots. They did emergency surgery that night because they worried some of those fractures might float into his brain,” Mulligan’s lawyer J. Michael Flanagan told the Daily News.
Mulligan claims he was detained by police who mistook him for a burglary suspect and taken to a “flea bag” motel where he was told to wait alone with thousands of dollars in cash that cops found in his car.
Flanagan said the Hollywood honcho worried he was being used as bait and suffered the beating when he tried to flee.
Police tell a different story, saying Mulligan matched the description of a man trying to open car doors in a fast food restaurant parking lot.
A police source said officers took Mulligan to the motel as a courtesy because he said he hadn’t slept in days. Cops say Mulligan later assumed a “fighting stance” and charged at an officer during a follow-up call hours later.
A fourth investigation involves a 20-year-old skateboarder who was tackled, punched in the head and cuffed by multiple officers for riding his skateboard in the street and allegedly ignoring officer commands near Venice Beach.
A bystander caught the end of the incident on video.