Texas officer resigns after ‘indefensible’ actions at pool party – CNN
(CNN)A Texas officer widely criticized for his handling of black teens at a pool party has resigned — even before the investigation into the case was finished.
A YouTube video that showed Eric Casebolt’s response to reports of fighting at a McKinney pool party sparked swift allegations of racism.
Critics decried the white officer for cursing at several black teenagers, unholstering and waving his gun at boys and slamming at bikini-clad girl to the ground, his knees pressed down on her back.
McKinney’s police chief announced Casebolt’s firing Tuesday and called Casebolt’s actions “indefensible.”
“Our policies, our training, our practice, do not support his actions,” Police Chief Greg Conley said. “He came into the call out of control, and as the video shows, was out of control during the incident.”
Prior to his resignation Casebolt had been on administrative leave as police investigated what happened at McKinney’s Craig Ranch community last Friday.
It’s too soon to say whether the former officer will face charges over what happened, the police chief said.
“We are continuing looking into all the allegations that are being presented to us, and any part of a criminal investigation regarding anyone will take a matter of time for us to work through all those allegations and those people who have come forward to us to complain,” Conley said.
He noted that Casebolt was the only responding officer who was out of line.
“I had 12 officers on the scene, and 11 of them performed according to their training,” he said. “They did an excellent job.”
Casebolt’s attorney has not responded to CNN’s requests for comment.
While the police chief said Casebolt’s actions were clearly unjustified, opinions vary as to whether race played a role.
Party host: Racist remark sparked tensions
Tatyana Rhodes was hosting a pool party Friday and said tensions flared after a racially charged fight broke out.
It started, she said, when two white women told a group of black teens they should leave and “go back to their Section 8 homes.”
One of the women, she said, smacked her in the face.
But Rhodes said the police officer took things too far.
“He didn’t have to use aggression,” she told CNN’s “Erin Burnett: Outfront.”
Now, she says she’s glad he has stepped down.
“I’m happy that he’s resigning,” she said. “I feel that everyone in McKinney will feel better that he’s resigning. … It’s the first step.”
Black resident: ‘This was not a racially motivated event’
Benet Embry, a black resident at Craig Ranch, saw things differently at the neighborhood pool Friday.
He said he saw a crowd of teenagers show up, even though Craig Ranch’s strict homeowners’ association rules prohibit bringing more than two guests to the pool.
The teens huddled by the gate and shouted to be let in. Some jumped over the fence, Embry said. A security guard tried to get them to leave but was outnumbered, so the guard called police.
“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,” he said. “This was not a racially motivated event — at all. This whole thing is being blown completely out of proportion.”
Embry did say he was disturbed to see the officer kneel on top of the bikini-clad girl and wave his gun at other teens.
“I may or may not agree with everything that the police officer did, but I do believe he was trying to establish order,” he said.
White videographer: It was racially motivated
Brandon Brooks disagrees. He’s the 15-year-old white teen who shot the video and said there’s no doubt race was a factor in how police responded. Brandon said the officer was targeting black teens at the scene.
“I was one of the only white people in the area when that was happening,” he told CNN affiliate KDAF. “You can see in part of the video where he tells us to sit down, and he kinda like skips over me and tells all my African-American friends to go sit down.”
Brandon said he was unnerved to see his 14-year-old friend tackled and pressed to the ground.
“I think she was ‘running her mouth,’ and she has freedom of speech, and that was very uncalled for him to throw her to the ground,” he said.
Tackled girl: ‘My back was hurting bad’
Dajerria Becton, the girl seen taken to the ground by Casebolt, told local station KDFW she had obeyed the officer’s order to leave.
“He told me to keep walking,” she said. “And I kept walking, and then I’m guessing he thought we were saying rude stuff to him.”
That’s when things got physical, she said.
“He grabbed me, twisted my arm on my back and shoved me in the grass and started pulling the back of my braids,” Dajerria told KDFW.
In the video, the officer places her hands behind her and kneels on her back.
“I was telling him to get off me because my back was hurting bad,” Dajerria said.
Dajerria wasn’t charged, McKinney police said. She was released to her parents.