Los Angeles Police Department officer Mary O’Callaghan was sentenced to 36 months in prison on Thursday after being convicted of assault caught on her police cruiser dash cam, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The 35-year-old victim, Alesia Thomas, died after the altercation, which began when officers went to Thomas’s home to investigate claims that she had abandoned her children, says The Guardian.
As you can see on the video, O’Callaghan kicked Thomas in the crotch and struck her with an open hand. Thomas then lost consciousness and fell to the ground, as O’Callaghan apathetically smoked a cigarette. The surveillance shows the officer assaulting Thomas both outside of and as she was entering the vehicle.
As Thomas is taken to the back of the car by the officer, she can be seen on the video, saying “I can’t breathe. I can’t move.”
Soon after, she was shown losing consciousness in the backseat as the officer said, “That ain’t a good sign.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, in the courtroom, Sandra Thomas, mother of Alesia Thomas said to the judge, “I have to ask God to help me learn to forgive her.”
Thomas’ mother expressed compassion in the courtroom, noting that O’Callaghan did not show the same to her daughter on the night she died.
Due to the officers lack of concern for Alesia Thomas’ life, her mother expressed, “It makes me feel like she wanted that to happen.”
O’Callaghan appeared to feel remorse for what took place that night in 2012. The Los Angeles Times reported that she looked to Sandra Thomas and said her first comments since the trial began, “Mother to Mother. I am extremely sorry for the loss of your daughter.”
Surveillance played a big role in the trial, capturing O’Callaghan’s lack of concern for Thomas as she struggled to stay conscious. The officer did not call the ambulance for more than 30 minutes after Thomas became unresponsive.
The Los Angeles coroner reported that the examination did not show any proof of Thomas’ death being a result of O’Callaghan’s blows, instead her body may have shut down from the high levels of cocaine in her system. This left her cause of death “undetermined,” but O’Callaghan is being held responsible for the assault.
“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,” LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said at the sentencing.
O’Callaghan will be terminated from her position in the LAPD, as well as her job as an emergency dispatcher in Vermont. Although she has been sentenced for the assault, the trend of leniency on police officers who commit violent crimes is not absent from this case. Judge Sam Ohta sentenced O’Callaghan to 36 months in jail, with the last 20 months of her time suspended, giving her the possibility of getting out in 5 months if she maintains good behavior.
SOURCE: Los Angeles Times | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images