A female Los Angeles Police Department officer waived her right today to a hearing to determine if she will have to stand trial on an assault charge for allegedly kicking a handcuffed woman who later died.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Renee Korn ordered Mary O'Callaghan, 48, to stand trial following her waiver and instructed her to return to court May 1 for arraignment.
"We look forward to the facts coming out at trial and we're confident that a jury will see that she was acting in the scope and course of her duties and consistent with her training," defense attorney Robert Rico said outside court. His client has been relieved of duty without pay from the LAPD.
O'Callaghan was charged last October with a felony count of assault by a public officer stemming from her July 22, 2012, interaction with arrestee Alesia Thomas.
According to police and prosecutors, officers responded to the home of the 35-year-old woman's home in the 9100 block of South Broadway Avenue to investigate allegations that she had abandoned her two children at a police station.
Thomas was arrested, and O'Callaghan helped other officers place the woman -- who was handcuffed and wearing leg restraints -- in a patrol car. According to the prosecution, a video camera mounted on a police cruiser captured O'Callaghan kicking the woman in the stomach and groin area and "pushing" her in the throat.
Thomas lost consciousness in the patrol car and paramedics were called. She was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead, prosecutors said.
The coroner's office performed an autopsy, but the woman's cause of death was "undetermined," prosecutors said, noting that there was insufficient evidence to pursue an involuntary manslaughter charge against O'Callaghan.
O'Callaghan's attorney said shortly after the charge was filed last year that he was "shocked" by the prosecution's decision to file a case against the 19-year LAPD veteran and retired Marine, saying that he believed her actions were within "policy" and that she was acting in response to Thomas' actions.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said last year that O'Callaghan's actions, "as seen on the video, did not meet the expectations I have of our officers in the field."
"As troubling as this case is, it demonstrates that our system of discovering misconduct is working, and that we will hold our officers accountable for their actions," Beck said. "Every single day LAPD officers are asked to do extraordinary things for people while proudly wearing the LAPD badge. I hope the community recognizes that the act of one officer cannot and should not be an overall reflection of this department."
O'Callaghan had previously been commended by the LAPD for her community efforts and for helping the family of a burglary victim who had lost all of their Christmas presents, according to Tyler Izen, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing LAPD officers.
If convicted as charged, O'Callaghan could face up to three years in state prison, according to the District Attorney's Office.
-- City News Service