The Los Angeles Police Department has placed no fewer than five of its officers under investigation as law enforcement officials search for answers in the mysterious death of a 35-year-old black mother who died last month while being detained.
The LAPD has opened a probe to see what role, if any, its officers had in the July 22 death of Alesia Thomas. The South Los Angeles resident suffocated to death while in the backseat of a departmental patrol car after officers attempted to detain her for alleged child endangerment.
“I take all in-custody death investigations very seriously,” LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said in a statement late Thursday, the LA Times reports.
The police department reports that Thomas left two of her children, ages 3 and 12, at an LAPD station in Southeast Los Angeles in the early morning of July 22. LAPD Cmdr. Bob Green confirms to the Times that Thomas wanted to surrender custody of her children because she was concerned that her addiction to drugs was preventing her from properly caring for them. When she left the station, officers went to her home to question her, then attempted to issue an arrest on suspicion of child endangerment.
Thomas “began actively resisting arrest,” the LAPD reports. As a struggled ensued, Cmdr. Green tells the Times that one officer, left unnamed, warned Thomas that she’d be kicked in the genitals for not cooperating. The officer, Cmdr. Green confirms, followed through with the threat.
One officer, Green also admits, told Thomas something along the lines of “get your fat ass in the car”while trying to detain her.