Texas officer in video let 'emotions get the better of him': lawyer

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 10, 2015 3:37 PM

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - The Dallas-area policeman seen in a viral video throwing a bikini-clad black teenager to the ground was emotionally fraught at the time after responding to two suicide calls, and was not targeting minorities, his attorney said on Wednesday.

McKinney Police Corporal Eric Casebolt, who is white, resigned on Tuesday after being seen in a video responding to a disturbance at a pool party on Friday where he appeared to target black youths, an incident that has added to concerns about racial bias in U.S. policing.

"He never intended to mistreat anyone," lawyer Jane Bishkin told a news conference, adding that Casebolt hoped his resignation can bring healing.

He has received death threats and is at an undisclosed location because he fears for his family's safety, she said.

Prior to the incident, Casebolt had responded to one suicide and worked to prevent another, causing him to be under emotional strain when he arrived at the disturbance, Bishkin said.

"With all that had happened that day, he allowed his emotions to get the better of him," she said.

In the video seen nearly 11 million times on YouTube, Casebolt is seen shouting obscenities at black youths in a multiracial crowd, shoving an African-American teenage girl, briefly pointing his gun at black youths and then throwing the bikini-clad 15-year-old to the ground and putting his knees on her back.

The police chief in McKinney, a city about 30 miles (50 km) north of Dallas, said on Tuesday Casebolt was out of control and his actions indefensible, adding that 11 other officers on the scene acted professionally and responsibly.

(Editing by Eric Walsh)