LAPD officers investigated after suspect dies in police custody

Posted at 6:24 PM, Aug 31, 2012
and last updated 2012-08-31 18:26:01-04

Los Angeles (WTVR) - At least five members of the Los Angeles Police Department are under investigation after a suspect died in custody.

Police confronted the woman after her two young children showed up at the police station.

"They said their mom didn't want them anymore and told them to come to the police," recounted Commander Andrew Smith with LAPD.

Police tracked down 35-year-old Alesia Thomas at her apartment in South LA. Officers say they had a tough time restraining her. One officer allegedly kicked her in the genitals.

"The neighbors and everybody was hearing screaming and yelling 'they killing her, they killing her,' and next thing you know they hog-tied her and they carried her out the building hog-tied," said a man who witnessed the incident and wishes to be called "Tony".

Officers say they noticed Thomas was not breathing after they put her in the cruiser.

"We don't know whether it was some type of trauma or whether it was some kind of medication or some type of substance. We don't know what the cause of death was right now," said Smith.

A camera in the patrol car recorded the incident, but the LAPD is not releasing the video. Police say it does reveal some questionable tactics.

"We're concerned about any use of force that our officers have," said Smith.

Just last week, a surveillance camera caught another violent incident involving the LAPD. In the video officers are seen throwing a handcuffed woman to the ground, then fist-pumping each other after putting her in the cruiser.

The woman, who suffered cuts and bruises, was arrested after allegedly talking on her cell phone while driving.

The LAPD is now using this video during roll call to discuss the use of force.

The police chief removed the arresting officers from the field, and demoted their commander in the cell phone arrest incident.