LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — A veteran Los Angeles police officer was sentenced Thursday to three years in jail for kicking and shoving a handcuffed woman who later died.
Mary O'Callaghan, 50, will likely only have to serve about 16 months in Los Angeles County jail after a judge suspended 20 months of her prison term. She's been credited for already serving about three months.
In Oct. 2013, O'Callaghan was charged by Los Angeles County prosecutors with felony assault under color of authority in the 2012 arrest of 35-year-old Alesia Thomas.
Before her sentencing, a teary-eyed O'Callaghan apologized to Thomas' mother.
"Mother to mother, I am extremely sorry for the loss of your daughter, O'Callaghan said.
"Not a day goes by that I don't think of her. I pray for her every day. I pray for her children," the former officer said at her sentencing.
She pleaded not guilty in 2013, but was later convicted in June.
The 228-pound Thomas had resisted arrest during her arrest on July 22, 2012, according to a report by the Police Commission.
O'Callaghan's attorney said she never had a complaint against her upheld during her 19 years on the force and had an exemplary record.
O'Callaghan was not charged in Thomas' death. She has been relieved of duty without pay pending an administrative hearing.
An autopsy found Thomas had cocaine in her system, but the cause of death was listed as undetermined because the struggle couldn't be excluded as a contributing factor. There were no internal injuries or bruising.
Thomas' family spoke at the sentencing about how difficult this has been for her children.
"I don't know how to explain to them, that she was beaten, treated like an animal, hog-tied," Thomas' father, Philip Washington said. "I don't know how to explain to them that Officer O'Callaghan brutalized, desecrated their mother, not out of need, but out of hate for people like her."
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