Calls mount to fire Texas officer who threw youth to ground

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 08, 2015 11:51 AM

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A rally is planned for Monday in the Dallas-area city of McKinney calling for the firing of a white police officer seen in a viral video throwing a black teenage girl to the ground and pointing his pistol at other youths at a pool party.

McKinney Police Corporal Eric Casebolt has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation of how he responded to a disturbance at the party on Friday in the city about 30 miles north of Dallas, an incident that has raised fresh questions about racial bias in U.S. policing.

Casebolt is seen in the video shouting obscenities at black youths in a multiracial crowd, placing a black youth in handcuffs, briefly pointing his gun at the youths and throwing a bathing suit-clad girl to the ground, burying his knees in her back to keep her prone.

"We are demanding that the officer be fired and be charged with assaulting the youth," said Dominique Alexander, the president of the Next Generation Action Network, which is organizing the rally.

Casebolt, a 10-year veteran who was once named the department's patrolman of the year, was questioned by authorities on Monday, local media reported. He has not spoken publicly about the incident.

The seven-minute video, which has been viewed more than 4 million times on YouTube as of Monday morning, shows several officers responding to the incident, which police said started when scores of youths attended a party with a DJ at a community's pool and refused requests to leave.

At the start of the video, one officer is speaking cordially with a group of teens, telling them, "Don’t take off running as soon as cops get here."

Dajerria Becton, the girl who was thrown to the ground by Casebolt, told local broadcaster KDFW that the officer twisted her arm and grabbed her by the hair.

"Him getting fired isn’t enough," she said.

Several people wrote on the McKinney Police Facebook page the youths antagonized police and that they should have obeyed when officers told them to stay put and keep quiet.

McKinney Mayor Brian Loughmiller said he was "disturbed and concerned by the incident".

McKinney has about 150,000 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. African-Americans make up 10.5 percent of the population and whites about 75 percent.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)