A Los Angeles police officer accused of kicking a handcuffed woman, who later died, pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning to assault under color of authority.
Mary O'Callaghan, 48, was charged last week in connection with the July 22, 2012, incident that ended with the death of Alesia Thomas.
Prosecutors say O'Callaghan — a 19-year department veteran — kicked Thomas in the groin and stomach and pushed her in the throat while she was in handcuffs and restraints.
Thomas, 35, once inside the patrol car, lost consciousness, and paramedics were called. Shortly afterward, she was pronounced dead at a hospital.
O'Callaghan was one of several officers sent to Thomas' home in the 9100 block of South Broadway Avenue to investigate after she abandoned her children at a South L.A. police station.
O'Callaghan was suspended without pay and is out of custody on her own recognizance. Prosecutors said she could face up to three years in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors said last week that they declined to charge O'Callaghan with involuntary manslaughter because of insufficient evidence to prove her conduct caused Thomas' death.
O'Callaghan is due back in court Dec. 5.