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The family of a woman who died in police custody two months ago is calling on the U.S. Justice Department to investigate her case, along with other instances of what the family’s attorney calls a pattern of misconduct by the Los Angeles Police Department.
Alesia Thomas died in police custody July 22nd, after being placed in hobble restraint device and put into the back of a patrol vehicle.
Police refuse to release the dashcam video that would show exactly what happened to Thomas that morning. And according to police spokesman Sgt. Frank Preciado, in comments to theGrio, there is no arrest report because Thomas died in custody before officers could reach the police station.
According to a statement released by the department, the LAPD’s Force Investigation Division (FID) detectives are investigating Thomas’ death. Preciado told theGrio the case would be “investigated very diligently.”
“Every step is being looked at: what they said, what they did, what they didn’t do and what they didn’t provide,” Preciado said. “If officers are deemed to be out of policy it will be dealt with.” And Preciado said that potential disciplinary action, if the officers were to be found in violation of department rules, would range “from suspension, to release from service or even criminal action.”
With the help of the Trayvon Martin’s lawyer, Benjamin Crump, the family is suing the LAPD and requesting an external independent investigation into alleged police brutality by the United States Department of Justice.
In a letter from the Crump to Attorney General Eric Holder, Crump wrote, “We believe the LAPD’s internal investigation into the Thomas matter is a disingenuous attempt at an impartial campaign…”
Incident began with children left at station
According to police, on the morning of July 22nd officers returned to their station to investigate reports of two children, aged 3 1/2 and 12, who had been dropped off at a Los Angeles police station by Thomas, who appears to have been taking advantage of the city’s “safe haven” law, which allows struggling parents to surrender their children at certain locations, including police and fire stations, or hospitals. After the children were dropped off, police officers went to Thomas’ apartment, intending to arrest her on charges of child abandonment.