Tuesday, June 9, 2015
The Dallas Morning News Editorial
The Dallas Morning News:
Once again, the nation is fixated on frightening video of a police officer’s over-reaction. This time it happened in North Texas. This time no one was hurt. This time we got lucky.
McKinney police Cpl. Eric Casebolt, in a shockingly wrong-headed decision, determined that a group of unwelcome teenagers at a neighborhood pool was a threat so great that it was necessary to throw a 15-year-old girl to the ground and pin her with both knees — then brandish his gun at two young men who appeared to be trying to help the teen.
Casebolt is shown running around yelling and screaming before putting a full body slam on bikini-clad Dajerria Becton as she sobs, “Call my momma.” It’s a miracle he didn’t wind up bouncing her head off the nearby concrete path.
At least the Police Department had the good sense to respond by placing Casebolt on administrative leave while the city sorts out this scary scenario, captured on a profanity-laced seven-minute video that has been already been viewed millions of times. The incident took place at McKinney’s Craig Ranch, where the homeowners association limits pool use to subdivision residents and two guests per household.
Officers responded after residents and a private security officer called police to complain that several teens were at the pool without permission. The questions are many: Did the kids come in uninvited? Did they refuse to leave? When police arrived, did they they mouth off? Even if the answer to every one of those questions is “yes,” Casebolt’s response was still disturbing. There was no need for that level of force. There was no need for him to draw his weapon.
The bigger question: Would this scene have played out differently had the teens been white instead of black? In contrast to other officers on the video, who can be heard calmly speaking to several teens, Casebolt is agitated from the beginning. Before he grabbed Dajerria, as she walked away from the scene, he’d pulled another teen off his feet then barked at others to “get your asses on the ground.” Rather than seeking to control the situation appropriately, Casebolt let the situation control him, resulting in failure to match the response to the actual threat.
It’s a giant understatement to note that these unarmed minors, many of them in their bare feet and bathing suits, could have been effectively corralled with far less force. Instead, a petite teenage girl ended up face down on the ground, and McKinney joins the list of cities suffering a national embarrassment thanks to the action of an over-the-top cop.
It’s doubly disturbing that any officer would respond this way, seemingly blind to the race-related violence that has ravaged other parts of the country. Unless there’s a lot more to this story that we don’t yet know, Casebolt deserves — at least — suspension.
And this video belongs in a police training manual as a prime example of what not to do. Still, as horrific as that video is to watch, perhaps more horrifying is considering the tragic turn it could have taken.
This time we got lucky.