In a week of terrible news, why not this? A little over a year after McKinney, Texas police officer Eric Casebolt brandished his gun at a group of unarmed black teenagers at a pool party and threw a 15-year-old bikini-clad girl onto the concrete ground, a Texas grand jury has declined to charge him.
Casebolt was suspended, and later resigned (keeping his pension and benefits), after a video surfaced showing him accosting a group of black teenagers who were having a pool party at a community pool in a Dallas suburb. According to a police statement, police were responding to a “disturbance” call concerning a group of kids who “do not live in the area or have permission to be there”; one of the teens who threw the party said that adult white pool attendees called her racial epithets and slapped her in the face.
In the video, Officer Casebolt can be seen waving his gun and screaming at a group of unarmed, apparently entirely nonviolent kids, and later wrestling 15-year-old Dajerria Becton to the ground and putting her in handcuffs. Casebolt had a disciplinary record with the police department, having been reprimanded on three separate past occasions.
The city, named by Money Magazine as the “best place to live in America,” settled a lawsuit in 2009 alleging that the city’s housing authority was forcibly segregating the population via “illegal racial steering.” Teens at the party told BuzzFeed News that the original altercation broke out after adults at the pool told the kids to go back to “Section 8 [public] housing.”
Thousands of people protested in McKinney in response to the incident. “I think a bunch of white parents were angry that a bunch of black kids who don’t live in the neighborhood were in the pool,” Brandon Brooks, a white teenager who uploaded the video to YouTube, told BuzzFeed at the time. “Everyone who was getting put on the ground was black, Mexican, Arabic,” he said. “[The cop] didn’t even look at me. It was kind of like I was invisible.”
Kim T. Cole, the attorney representing Dajerria Becton, says that the family plans to file civil rights and personal injury lawsuits against the city on Monday. Cole told the Los Angeles Times that the grand jury’s decision was “no surprise”:
“We currently live in a time in which the public servants who are hired to protect and serve are not required to uphold the very law they are sworn to enforce,” Cole said. “The message is clear. Police are above the law. This must change. They must be held accountable.”
Casebolt’s attorney told the Dallas Morning News, “We’re glad the system worked in his favor in this case.” It certainly did.
Demonstrators in McKinney, Texas protest near a community pool on June 8, 2015. (Image via Associated Press)