Cpl. Eric Casebolt sat atop an African-American teen girl clad in bikini to control her as he responded to a police call over a Texas pool party. In a YouTube video uploaded on June 6, the police officer is seen manhandling a girl, who he threw onto a sidewalk, pulled her hair at some point, until he successfully pinned her down on the ground. The video had been viewed for more than 8,000,000 times since it was uploaded.
Casebolt has since been placed on administrative leave. Activists were calling for his immediate termination.
Meanwhile, residents of the suburban neighborhood said his actions were only justified. The teens did not live in the area and did not have permission to be there, homeowners said. They had crashed the pool party and refused to leave when they were told.
Police officer yanks bikini-clad teen
According to Brandon Brooks who uploaded the video on YouTube, the police were called because a fight between a mother and a girl broke out.
“When the cops showed up, everyone ran, including the people who didn’t do anything. So the cops just started putting everyone on the ground and in handcuffs for no reason. This kind of force is uncalled for especially on children and innocent bystanders,” Brooks wrote.
In an interview with NBC News, Brooks said Casebolt chased after all the kids but was just putting every African-American he saw on the ground. Some residents, religious leaders and activists said the incident was a case of racism.
Jahi Adisa Bakari, a father of a 13-year-old girl who attended the pool party, said the police should have sent the proper people to respond to the call.
“I don’t like grown men touching my daughters. This man was out of control,” Bakari told NBC News.
The group called Justice Seekers Texas is now calling for Casebolt to be fired and charged.
“We’re going to ask for justice to be done. This simply could have been handled different,” said Ron White, the executive director of the group.
One McKinney resident, author David Lee, said Casebolt’s behavior was appalling. It was “unlike anything I have ever seen demonstrated by anyone that occupies that level of authority.”
There was no racism, says witnesses
Benet Embry, an African-American resident, said a crowd of teenagers appeared by the gate of Craig Ranch and demanded being allowed entrance. When they were denied, some of them jumped over the fence. A security guard failed to control the unruly juveniles.
“Let me reiterate, the neighbors or the neighborhood did not call the police because this was an African-American party or whatever the situation is. This was not a racially motivated event — at all. This whole thing is being blown completely out of proportion,” Embry told CNN.
He however said that he felt uncomfortable knowing that the police officer knelt on a teenager and aimed his gun at other teenagers.
An anonymous mother has echoed the same opinion.
“I want everyone to know that the Police Department was in the right and protecting everyone. He was not out of line drawing his gun, because he was being attacked,” the mother told CNN.
Jordan Gray, an African-American teen who attended the pool party, said there was no racism involved. He said the girl had to be put on the ground because the situation spun out of control.
“It was just a young girl put on the ground against her will and that’s all it was. It was not racism. It wasn’t none of that. It seemed like racism because he put down all the black people and all the white people were walking around freely. … The officer was so out of control that he didn’t know what he was doing seemed like racism,” Gray told CNN.
CNN law enforcement analyst Cedric Alexander has spoken in the same tune. If there is something that should be criticized about Casebolt, it was his temperament.
Alexander said Casebolt should have controlled his temper. “They are teenagers and we are the professionals. You can’t allow emotions to get in the way.”
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