Ron Jenkins / AP

Texas police officer who threw girl to ground resigns

McKinney police chief announced Eric Casebolt resigned of his own will days after video emerged of pool party incident

The white Texas police officer caught on camera throwing a bikini-clad black girl to the ground and pointing his pistol at other black youths during a pool party confrontation has resigned, the city's police chief announced. 

McKinney Police Chief Greg Conley told reporters Eric Casebolt "was out of control during the incident" and called his actions "indefensible," adding that he did not "condone those who violated rules of the community" and "showed disrespect" to security on the scene and officers who later responded.

The seven-minute video of the pool party incident in McKinney, viewed more than 7 million times on YouTube as of Monday, shows officers responding to an incident that police said started when youths attending a party at a community pool refused requests to leave. 

Conley said that Casebolt, who had been placed on paid administrative leave, resigned of his own will and that an internal police investigation into the incident is now over because Casebolt is no longer an employee. However, Casebolt could still face a criminal investigation. Meanwhile, charges against an 18-year-old man who was arrested at the scene have been dropped, police said.  

Police experts have questioned Casebolt’s aggressive tactics, and others have questioned whether the incident would have escalated so quickly had most of the partygoers been white.

Casebolt is seen in the video recorded on Friday shouting obscenities at the group, shoving a black 15-year-old girl to the ground, kneeling on her back and pulling his gun on black youths who tried to stop him.

When asked by reporters if the McKinney Police Department would review its training in light of the controversial incident, Conley said, "We are always evaluating our training." 

"I would emphasize that I had 12 officers on the scene [and] 11 of them did exactly what we wanted them to do," he added.

The incident in McKinney comes after a string of cases over the past year fueled waves of protests across the United States over what civil rights activists say is law enforcement's unjustified use of force, often lethal, against minority groups. Tension has been high since last summer, with the police killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

On Monday, hundreds of protesters marched through McKinney, calling for Casebolt's firing. About 800 people took part in the peaceful rally, carrying signs demanding an end to police brutality and calling for police accountability.

Attendees said that the party was a graduation event and that most people there who didn't live in the neighborhood had guest passes. Others reported white neighbors hurling racist insults at black partygoers before calling the police on them.

Civil rights leaders met McKinney officials on Monday and told reporters they saw the officer's actions as racially motivated. They said they want a U.S. Justice Department probe.

Casebolt's resignation is a step in the right direction, said Dominique Alexander, the president of the Dallas-area Next Generation Action Network and an organizer of the demonstrations. "We still need a serious investigation into the charges that need to be brought against him in this matter," she said, adding that he should be tested for drugs.

The NAACP is asking the U.S. Department of Justice to review the procedures of the McKinney police force, stopping short of asking for a formal investigation. A review of department policies is needed to ensure that officers are responding appropriately to calls involving minorities, the local NAACP chapter said.

Brandon Brooks, the white bystander who recorded the incident, told reporters that while police were shouting at his black friends to get on the ground, he felt he was “invisible” — attributing that to his race.

Casebolt was questioned by authorities on Monday. He has not spoken publicly about the incident. A 10-year veteran once named the department's patrolman of the year, he was accused of excessive force in a 2007 arrest as part of a federal lawsuit that named him along with other officers. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2009.

Dajerria Becton, the 15-year-old girl whom Casebolt threw to the ground, told broadcaster KDFW he twisted her arm and grabbed her by the hair.

“Him getting fired isn’t enough,” she said.

McKinney has about 150,000 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Black residents make up 10.5 percent of the population and white people about 75 percent.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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