A judge declared a mistrial Thursday in the case of an LAPD officer accused of kicking a woman in the groin during an arrest in 2012 that ended in the woman’s death.
Mary O’Callaghan’s trial took an unexpected twist Thursday after an official in the Los Angeles Police Department's internal affairs division gave a prosecutor new information about a sergeant who witnessed the 2012 incident, said Robert Rico, O’Callaghan’s attorney.
Rico said the internal affairs employee approached Assistant Head Deputy Dist. Atty. Shannon Presby on Thursday morning and told him about a disciplinary hearing in which the sergeant testified that he advised O'Callaghan to stop during the 2012 altercation with Alesia Thomas.
The sergeant didn’t mention ordering O’Callaghan to stop in earlier statements to internal affairs investigators, Rico said.
The defense attorney questioned why it took so long for the LAPD to come forward with the information, saying he believed department officials must have known about the statement for several months and failed to legally disclose the information.
“I’m flabbergasted,” Rico said. “This case has been a political case from the start.”
LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith declined to comment.
"Our department does not comment on ongoing criminal cases. We'll let the judicial system come to the right conclusion," Smith said.
O’Callaghan, 49, was one of several officers who responded to Thomas’ home to investigate allegations that she abandoned her children. After interviewing her, officers placed her under arrest.
A squad car video camera captured O’Callaghan kicking Thomas in the stomach and groin and shoving her in the throat, prosecutors said. Thomas lost consciousness once inside the patrol car and paramedics were called. The 35-year-old was pronounced dead at a hospital soon afterward.
An autopsy by the L.A. County coroner determined that cocaine intoxication was likely "a major factor" in Thomas' death. It wasn't possible to determine what role, if any, the struggle with the officers played in her death. The official cause of death was listed as "undetermined."
A spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office declined to comment on the new evidence, calling it “privleged.”
O’Callaghan’s next court appearance — a new pretrial hearing — is scheduled for April 2.