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LAPD Officer Found Guilty of Assault in Arrest of Woman Who Died in Custody

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A Los Angeles Police Department officer who was seen on video kicking and punching a handcuffed woman who lost consciousness and died was found guilty Friday of assaulting the woman during her arrest.

LAPD Officer Mary O'Callaghan is seen during her assault trial. (Credit: Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

LAPD Officer Mary O'Callaghan is seen during her assault trial. (Credit: Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

Officer Mary O’Callaghan, 50, was calledJuly 22, 2012, to the 9100 block of South Broadway Avenue to assist in the arrest of Alecia Thomas, who had been taken into custody by officers investigating a possible child abandonment claim.

Thomas was in the back of a patrol car wearing handcuffs and leg restraints when the police cruiser's camera captured O'Callaghan kick her in the stomach and groin area and push her in the throat, according to a news release from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Paramedics were called after Thomas lost consciousness while still in the patrol car.

Alesia-Thomas

Alesia Thomas is shown in an image displayed at a 2012 news conference called by an attorney for her family.

Dashcam video from another patrol car showed O'Callaghan light a cigarette and look inside the car where Thomas had been placed and say “That ain’t a good sign," the Los Angeles Times reported.

Police cruiser video that showed the assault was played for jurors, and the jury forewoman told KTLA outside the courthouse that those images were the most compelling evidence in the trial.

Thomas was pronounced dead after being taken to a hospital.

O'Callaghan was charged with assaulting an arrestee under the color of authority in 2013.

Prosecutors declined to file an involuntary manslaughter charge, citing insufficient evidence to prove that O'Callaghan's conduct caused Thomas' death.

After conducting an autopsy on Thomas, the L.A. County coroner's office said cocaine intoxication likely played "a major factor" in her death, the Times reported.

O'Callaghan served in the U.S. Marines for 13 years and is an 18-year veteran of the LAPD, her attorney, Robert Rico, said.

She faces up to three years in state prison to be served in county jail, the DA's office said.

Her sentencing hearing was scheduled for July 23. She surrendered herself to custody on Friday, however, to avoid more grief to or expense for her family, Rico said.

"We could have asked for bail, but she made that decision. She's a very strong, tough woman," he said.

Rico said he plans to appeal and will request a new trial.

KTLA's Melissa Pamer contributed to this article.

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