08/31/2012

5 LAPD officers investigated for in-custody death

A struggle ensued during the arrest of a woman on child endangerment charges

By PoliceOne Staff

LOS ANGELES — LAPD has opened an investigation into the in-custody death of a woman who police and witnesses say resisted arrest as she was being led into a cruiser.

On July 22, Alesia Thomas told officers she was a drug addict who could not care for her children and surrendered custody of her 12-year-old and 3-year-old at the precinct station, police said.

Investigating child endangerment allegations, a group of officers arrived at Thomas' South Los Angeles home to take her into custody. A struggle ensued, and police say officers kicked her and used a hobble restraint as they took her to the squad car.

A witness interviewed by KTLA said Thomas was resisting arrest. He told the station in his opinion, officers didn't do anything wrong.

The investigation into the actions of five officers will also look at whether drugs and alcohol were present at the time of the incident, or if Thomas had an underlying medical condition. Officials say Thomas died of suffocation.

"I take all in-custody death investigations very seriously," Beck told the Los Angeles Times Thursday. "I am confident we will get to the truth no matter where that leads us."

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