McKINNEY, Texas (CN) – A Texas police group said Monday that race did not play a role in the videotaped incident showing a white policeman pulling a gun on unarmed black teenagers at a pool party.
The 7-minute video shows several teenagers and adults on a sidewalk and grassy area Friday near a privately owned community swimming pool at the Craig Ranch master-planned community in McKinney.
Police Cpl. Eric Casebolt is shown angrily screaming profanity at only the black male teenagers, telling them to get on the ground, while he repeatedly yells at a group of teenage girls to leave the area.
He wrestles a 14-year-old black girl to the ground . Several teenagers are shown crying and screaming while surrounding Casebolt, who unholsters his service weapon and appears to point it at the two black male teenagers closest to him, who run away.
Casebolt then reholsters his gun and pins the screaming girl to the ground with his knees. She can be heard repeatedly asking for her mother.
McKinney, pop. 143,200, about 30 miles northeast of Dallas, is 64 percent white, according to city-data.com. An affluent suburb, its median household income of $79,171 is 56 percent above the statewide median of $50,740. The ugly incident has again brought national attention to issues of police brutality and racial profiling.
McKinney officials placed Casebolt on administrative leave after the video was uploaded Saturday. The police department and city manager are conducting separate investigations into the incident.
Casebolt has yet to publicly comment. The McKinney Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 107 has spoken out on his behalf, denying the role of race in its member’s conduct.
“The McKinney FOP assures that this was not a racially motivated incident and can say without a shadow of a doubt that all members of the McKinney FOP and McKinney PD do not conduct racially biased policing,” the group said in a statement Monday.
The police group criticized Casebolt’s use of profanity, saying it “does not condone professional officers cursing at juveniles or any citizens.”
“The use of profanity by officers diminishes the professional image which is expected,” the group said. “With that said, the use of profanity during high stress incidents may occur when attempting to gain control of unruly subjects who are not complying with officer’s commands.”
The group claimed that details of the incident “are being inaccurately broadcast” by news media locally and nationally.
“The subjects involved were a mixture of teens and adults who were trespassing not in a community pool but a private property pool regulated and maintained by this particular home owners association,” the police group said. “Vandalism and active fighting was reported in the same area involving this group of teens and adults.”
Condemnation of Casebolt’s conduct has been swift, with several civil rights organizations calling his actions “excessive” and an “attack.”
A group of peaceful protesters spoke outside of McKinney police headquarters Monday afternoon, calling for calm and accountability as the matter is investigated.
The Rev. Ronald Wright, with Dallas-based Justice Seekers Texas, said he has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate.
Wright said the next domestic terrorist attack will not be by the Islamic State. “It is going to be US-IS, us against these unjust law officers and people continuing to allow racism to grow into this city,” he said.
Jahi Adisa Bakari, mother of one of the teens at the pool party, said she was glad Casebolt “did not pull the trigger.” She said the 14-year-old girl in the video was following his instructions, but was “recklessly attacked.” She was careful not to condemn all of the responding police in the video.
“I saw people doing the right thing,” she said. “I saw an officer trying to keep the matter right. This guy was out of control, he should be drug-tested and fired.”
Mayor Brian Loughmiller said Sunday that he was “disturbed and concerned” by the contents of the video. In a statement posted to YouTube on Monday, he assured citizens the city “will be inclusive and work together to bring resolution” to the incident and “move forward together.”
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