Mary O’Callaghan, a 19-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, was sentenced to 36 months in jail for kicking and shoving a handcuffed woman who later died in custody.
The judge in O’Callaghan’s case suspended the majority of her sentence, leaving the former officer to serve just 16 months in county jail.
During her sentencing hearing, O’Callaghan apologized to the mother of Alesia Thomas, who was just 35 when she died.
“Mother to mother, I am extremely sorry for the loss of your daughter,” O’Callaghan said. “Not a day goes by that I don’t pray for her. I pray for her every day. I pray for her children.”
Thomas was arrested in July 2012 and was already handcuffed in the back of a police car when O’Callaghan grabbed her by the throat before kicking her in the stomach and groin, and then threatening to break her arm. Although Thomas complained of pain in her chest and requested an ambulance, prosecutors argued O’Callaghan refused to listen. Soon, Thomas lost consciousness and was pronounced dead when she was finally taken to the hospital.
Although Thomas’ cause of death was listed as “undetermined,” the medical examiner said cocaine was a “major factor.” Still, O’Callaghan was relieved of duty and charged with assault under the color of authority, meaning she abused her authority as an officer of the law.
Despite O’Callaghan’s apologies, Thomas’ mother isn’t ready to forgive her yet.
“I would love to forgive her, but I have to ask God to help me forgive her,” she said during the hearing.
As a result of her felony conviction O’Callaghan will be barred from working law enforcement ever again and will lose her LAPD pension.