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LAPD Officer Convicted in Fatal Arrest Case as Chief Clears Others in Shooting of Ezell Ford

As a jury convicted a female officer of felony assault in a deadly 2012 arrest, the LAPD chief and his department's independent watchdog reportedly found that a separate fatal shooting last year was justified.
June 6, 2015, 5:15pm
Photo by Nick Ut/AP

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As a jury convicted Los Angeles police officer Mary O'Callaghan on Friday for felony assault in the 2012 arrest and subsequent death of a suspect, the Los Angeles police chief and his department's independent watchdog reportedly found that the fatal shooting of a 25-year-old black man by officers last year was justified.

In O'Callaghan's case, a dashboard camera in a police cruiser captured the officer kicking Alesia Thomas seven times in the groin, abdomen and upper thigh while Thomas was handcuffed in the back of the vehicle. Thomas was later pronounced dead at a hospital. O'Callaghan was charged with assault under color of authority, but she was not charged in Thomas' death. O'Callaghan faces a maximum of three years in county jail when she is sentenced on July 23.

O'Callaghan's attorney Robert Rico said he plans to appeal and ask for a new trial. He said the jury's verdict was "based on emotion" rather than the necessary legal standard for conviction. "I firmly believe the evidence presented by the prosecution did not show her force was unreasonable or unnecessary," Rico said, according to the Associated Press.

Related: The LAPD Spent $22K to Have a Jailed Mexican Mafia Hit Man Speak at a Private Event

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck added, "It is always disappointing when an officer fails to uphold the high standards and professionalism shown by the thousands of LAPD officers daily."

Separately, Beck and the LAPD's inspector general reportedly found on Friday that the shooting of Ezell Ford by officers last August was justified and within department policy.

According to the LAPD, officers approached Ford last August because he was acting suspicious. After knocking one cop to the ground, Ford allegedly reached for the officer's holstered weapon. Another officer who was still standing fired two shots at Ford, while the fallen cop pulled a backup gun and shot Ford in the back.

The police inquiry reportedly found that evidence supported statements by officers that they shot Ford because he was trying to grab the officer's gun. Ford's DNA was reportedly found on the weapon.

Related: Ezell Ford Autopsy Shows He was Shot in Back, Arm and Side by LAPD

The findings will be delivered in reports to the Los Angeles Police Commission for a closed-session hearing on Tuesday, but were revealed Friday by a police department employee who spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity. The Commission will decide whether the shooting was within department policy.

While saying the shooting was justified, the inspector general reportedly found that the officers' tactics were problematic, saying that they should have kept their distance, pulled their weapons, and given Ford instructions instead of engaging him directly.

Ford was killed just days after Michael Brown was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and the incident prompted several peaceful protests and marches through Los Angeles.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.