A South Los Angeles woman who had dropped her two children off at a police station later died after an encounter with officers in which one of them kicked her in the groin.
Alesia Thomas, a drug addict who feared she could not care for her children, reportedly resisted when officers moved to arrest her. A patrol camera caught police in a struggle with Thomas that included one officer stomping on her genitals, as well as additional force. Footage then shows Thomas breathing shallowly in the back seat of a police car. She was pronounced dead shortly after being taken to a hospital.
An initial official account did not mention the kick by a female officer. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said in a statement that he wanted investigators to determine whether drugs or a medical condition could have played a role in Thomas’ death. Two witnesses said they thought police had treated Thomas fairly.
The Thomas case occurred in the early morning hours of July 22 after she left her 3-year-old and 12-year-old children at the LAPD’s Southeast Area station, according to a department account released the following day. Green, who oversees the Southeast Area station, confirmed that Thomas tried to surrender custody of the children to police because she was a drug addict and felt she could not care for them.
Officers went in search of Thomas, finding her at her home in the 9000 block of South Broadway. After questioning her briefly, the officers attempted to arrest her on suspicion of child endangerment, the department’s account said.
Thomas “began actively resisting arrest” and one of the officers took her to the ground by sweeping her legs from beneath her, the LAPD’s official account said. Two others handcuffed Thomas’ hands behind her back and attempted to lead her to a patrol car while a supervising sergeant observed, according to the department’s version.