In McKinney, Texas last Friday, a pool party at Craig Ranch North Community Pool descended into chaos when local police responded to complaints of a fight and that unauthorized guests were attending the party. The McKinney Police Department response to the incident, particularly as it pertains to the behavior of Corporal Eric Casebolt, has been described as excessive and racially-motivated by local community leaders, according to CBS 46. The majority of the party-goers were African American teens, and Corporal Casebolt was filmed detaining bystanders seemingly at random, wrestling a bikini-clad 14-year-old girl to the ground, and pulling his pistol on another teen who clenched his fist near the officer.
Fifteen-year-old white teenager Brandon Brooks, who also attended the pool party, filmed the incident and said in an above-embedded interview with journalist Andrew Demeter that he believes that Casebolt acted inappropriately and that racial bias appeared to be a motivating factor.
Brooks told NewsFix CW33, “I was one of the only white people in the area when that was happening. 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.” Brooks’ full video of the incident can be seen in the YouTube player below.
In the video, Corporal Casebolt can be seen swearing and accusing the teens of running their mouths just before he grabs 14-year-old girl Dajerria Becton and forcefully wrestles her to the ground. As bystanders begin to crowd around him, a teen can be seen clenching his fist in anger, to which Casebolt responds by drawing his pistol on the teen. Casebolt then keeps his pistol out while wrestling with the 14-year-old girl as she calls for her mother.
“I think she was quote unquote running her mouth, and she has freedom of speech and that was very uncalled for him to throw her to the ground… When he pulled his gun my heart dropped. As soon as he pulled out his gun, I thought he was going to shoot that kid. That was very scary,” said eyewitness Brooks to NewsFix CW33.
“It is our hope and prayer that the Chief of Police and the mayor of this city handle this situation by not only firing this officer but taking his license, because this was simply based on race,” said local pastor Reverend Ronald Wright.
Brooks said in his above-embedded interview with Andrew Demeter that police were originally called in response to a fight between a mother and a teen girl, and that the other bystanders, many of whom were detained, had nothing to do with the incident. Said Brooks to NewsFix CW33, “The cops showed up and the parents immediately started yelling, ‘you need more cops, there’s too many of them.’ And most of the kids weren’t even involved. It was a fight between a mom and girl, which had nothing to do with all the other kids that she apparently needed more cops for.”
“The McKinney FOP assures that this was not a racially motivated incident and can say without a shadow of doubt that all members of the McKinney FOP and McKinney PD do not conduct racially biased policing,” said McKinney Fraternal Order of Police president Daniel Malenfant, according to ABC News.
Jahi Adisa Bakari, a parent of a 13-year-old who attended the pool party, said that Casebolt’s behavior was “out of control” but that she “saw some [officers] doing the right thing.” She continued, “I saw some actually trying to keep the matter right.”
USA Today notes that party organizer Tatyana Rhodes said “[Corporal Casebolt] was just aggressive for no reason at all.”
43-year-old African-American resident Benet Embry said, according to CNN, “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.” Many of the party’s attendees felt that the police were called primarily because residents of the predominately-white neighborhood were bothered by the number of African-American teens at the pool.
Fifteen-year-old white eyewitness Brandon Brooks said that he felt he was “invisible” to the cops, who he believed were only focused on detaining the African-American party-goers.
“Several concerns about the conduct of one of the officers at the scene have been raised. The McKinney Police Department is committed to treating all persons fairly under the law. We are committed to preserving the peace and safety of our community for all our citizens,” said McKinney Police Chief Greg Conley at a press conference.
An adult male was arrested at the scene on charges of evading arrest and interfering with the duties of a police officer.
“Our initial reaction was to place [Officer Casebolt] on administrative leave until we can conduct a complete and thorough investigation of the incident,” McKinney Police Chief Greg Conley said.
UPDATE: Caselbolt resigned on Tuesday, according to his attorney. Read more here.