Alesia Thomas, mother of two, died July 22 after kick by LAPD police
Friday, August 31, 2012 9:37 EDT
The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating at least five officers after one of them allegedly stomped on a woman’s genitals and she later died of suffocation.
LAPD Cmdr. Bob Green admitted to the Times that a female officer had followed through with a threat to kick Thomas in the genitals when she resisted being put into the patrol car. Video shows a restrained Thomas struggling to breath in the back of the patrol car. She was taken to a local hospital and later died.
Officers had been attempting to arrest Thomas on suspicion of child endangerment. After the woman resisted arrest, she was put into handcuffs and they placed a “hobble restraint device,” or a binding strap binding, around her ankles. The original police report did not mention the kick to Thomas’ genitals.
“I take all in-custody death investigations very seriously and directed the officers involved be removed from field duties until further details are known, including what part intoxicants and physical conditions contributed,” a statementfrom LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said. “I am confident we will get to the truth no matter where that leads us.”
Neighbor Gerald McCrary Sr., 55, told the Times that the woman was the aggressor, not the police.
“They were talking to her, asking her to calm down, that everything will be all right,” he explained.
The investigation comes just one day after Beck reassigned the commanding officer of the department’s Foothill Division after video showed two of his officers repeatedly body slamming a handcuffed 34-year-old nurse.
Watch this video from KTLA, broadcast Aug. 31, 2012.
LAPD identifies woman slammed to ground in Tujunga traffic stop
Los Angeles Times August 28, 2012 | 10:09pm
A 34-year-old woman involved in an altercation with Los Angeles police that is now under investigation was identified Tuesday night as Michelle Jordan.
The Sunland resident was pulled over Aug. 21 on a cellphone violation and was arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest following an altercation with a 22-year Los Angeles Police Department veteran and a probationary officer, police said.
An email sent to Jordan’s attorney Tuesday night was not returned.
The incident was captured by surveillance video from a nearby business that was recovered by an LAPD supervisor who canvassed the area after the incident, law enforcement officials told The Times. Video footage was obtained by KNBC-TV Channel 4.
The woman was pulled over at a Del Taco restaurant on Foothill Boulevard in Tujunga because the two officers said she was holding a cellphone while driving, said the officials, who asked not to be named because the internal inquiry was in its preliminary stages.
In a report to supervisors, at least one of the officers said he took Jordan down to the ground following the traffic stop.
As the 5-foot 4-inch Jordan exited her vehicle, she allegedly failed to comply with officers’ commands to get back into the car. She was slammed to the ground by the male officers and placed in handcuffs, according to the officials.
While handcuffed, she was led to the officer’s patrol car. Moments later, she was slammed again to the pavement, apparently with more force, by one of the officers, who was much larger than Jordan, the officials said.
The LAPD disclosed the incident Tuesday evening in a statement, saying the officers had been assigned to desk duties while the department’s internal affairs detectives investigated the altercation.
“My initial review of the officers’ statements and the recorded video cause me to have serious concerns about this use of force,” Chief Charlie Beck said in the statement. “We will investigate this thoroughly and hold our officers accountable for their actions.”
Law enforcement officials who viewed the footage described it as “very troubling” and said at least one of the officers’ actions would be “difficult to explain.” The officials said investigators were focusing on the second take down of the woman after she was handcuffed.
A key question, the officials said, was whether the woman’s actions justified the level of force used by the officers.