MCKINNEY, Texas (CN) – A white police officer in a Dallas suburb was placed on administrative leave after a video went viral showing him pulling a gun on unarmed black teenagers at a swimming pool Friday.
Uploaded on YouTube by Brandon Brooks on Saturday, the 7-minute video shows McKinney police officers chasing several people – mostly black – at a privately owned community pool at the massive Craig Ranch master-planned community.
McKinney, pop. 143,200, about 30 miles northeast of Dallas, is 64 percent white, according to city-data.com. Its median household income of $79,171 is 56 percent above the statewide median of $50,740.
The incident again thrust the issues of police brutality and racial profiling into the national headlines.
The video focuses on several teenagers and adults on a sidewalk and grassy area by a residential street. The unidentified officer is showed angrily screaming profanity at only the black male teenagers, telling them to get on the ground, while he repeatedly yells at a group of nearby teenage girls to leave the area.
A 14-year-old black girl in the group allegedly did not cooperate with the commands, and the officer wrestled her to the ground.
Several teenagers are shown crying and screaming while surrounding the officer, who unholsters his service weapon and appears to point it at the two black male teenagers closest to him, who run away.
Two other police officers enter the frame, and one appears to reach for the officer’s left shoulder.
The officer then reholsters his gun and pins the screaming girl to the ground with his knees, while the two other officers chase the two male teenagers down the street. The girl can be heard repeatedly asking for her mother.
According to Brooks, the disturbance began when a “mom and a girl” started a fight at the community pool. White parents at the pool allegedly told the black teenagers they were not welcome and a private security guard told the black teenagers to leave, according to media reports.
“(W)hen the cops showed up everyone ran, including the people who didn’t do anything,” Brooks wrote on Youtube. “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.”
McKinney police said Sunday that they received several calls that night about teenagers “who do not live in the area or have permission to be there, refusing to leave” and “actively fighting.”
They said they learned later of the YouTube video that “has raised concerns” and resulted in an investigation.
“First responding officers encountered a large crowd that refused to comply with police commands. Nine additional units responded to the scene,” McKinney police posted on Facebook. “Officers were eventually able to gain control of the situation.”
Police Chief Greg Conley told reporters and residents Sunday the 14-year-old girl had been released to her parents. He declined to identify the officer or describe his service record, but said he was under investigation.
“The McKinney Police Department is committed to treating all persons fairly under the law,” Conley said at a news conference. “We are committed to preserving the peace and safety of our community for all of our citizens. We want to thank the citizens of McKinney for their continued support. As chief of police, I am committed to a complete and thorough investigation into this incident. We will be forthcoming in this process.”
Mayor Brian Loughmiller said Sunday that he was “disturbed and concerned” by the contents of the video. He expressed confidence in the police department and city management’s investigations.
“We will continue to monitor the situation through our city manager’s office and will continue to work with community leaders as we follow this investigative process,” he said in a statement.
NAACP President Cornell Williams said on Sunday that the officer’s “excessive force” was “particularly troubling.”
“These teens appeared to be simply attending a pool party and deserved respectful treatment under the law,” he said in a statement.
On Monday the Rev. Ronald Wright, with Dallas-based Justice Seekers Texas, said the person who shot the video, who is white, told him the officer’s “attack” was based on race.
“He told us that the people the officers attacked were the kids who were trying to assist them,” Wright said in a statement. “The mother who assaulted the teenager should be charge[d] with assault on a minor and the officer should be fired.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas urged McKinney police to identify the officer, his service record and all records of the incident, including the 911 calls.
“Police departments will never regain the trust of their communities until they are transparent and accountable,” the ACLU said.
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