The mother of a woman who died in police custody in Los Angeles is calling for the city’s police department to release a video of the incident, hoping to prove that her daughter was not resisting arrest.
“We need the video, and we have a right to see how the police treated my daughter,” said Sandra Thomas, in an interview with BET.com.
The case goes back to an incident in July, when Alesia Thomas left her two children, ages 12 and 3, at a Los Angeles Police Department station. According to police, Thomas, who was 35, sought to surrender custody of her children to police because she was addicted to drugs and did not believe she could adequately care for them.
After finding the children, officers went searching for Thomas at her home and tried to arrest her on suspicion of child endangerment. The officers drove in a patrol car outfitted with a video camera.
According to the police account, Thomas "began actively resisting arrest." One of the police officers took her to the ground by sweeping her legs from beneath her, the department’s official account said. Meanwhile, two other officers then handcuffed her. The officers then attempted to lead her to a patrol car while a supervising sergeant observed, according to the department.
However, a police official who had seen the video of the incident and requested anonymity because he is not authorized to comment publicly on the case, refuted the idea that Thomas was actively resisting the officers, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The official said that the mother seemed to be struggling to breathe and that she found it difficult to comply with the police officers’ demands of her.
“The family has been asking for information about her death, and they are incredibly frustrated by the police,” said Benjamin Crump, an attorney for the family.
Sandra Thomas said that the incident has been deeply troubling for family members.
“I don’t ever want anyone to go through anything like this,” she said. “This is a nightmare.”
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Photo: Courtesy of the Thomas family