McKINNEY (AP) — A suburban Dallas police officer has been placed on administrative leave after a video showed him pushing a 14-year-old girl in a swimsuit to the ground outside a pool and pointing his gun at other teens.
McKinney Police Chief Greg Conley said at a news conference Sunday that the incident began when officers responded Friday night to a report of a disturbance involving a group of black youths at a neighborhood pool party.
The police department said the youths do not live in the area and did not have permission to be at the pool.
When officers arrived, residents and private security pointed out the juveniles who were “creating the disturbance, fighting and refusing to leave,” Conley said.
As officers dispersed the crowd, the 14-year-old girl was “temporarily detained” by an officer, said Conley, who did not describe what led to her detainment.
The video shows the white officer pulling the bikini-clad black girl to the ground then seemingly using his knees to pin her down. He can also be seen pointing his gun at other teens and cursing.
The video, which was uploaded to YouTube, captures a chaotic scene that grows increasingly tense when the officer — identified as Cpl. Eric Casebolt — attempts to throw the girl onto a sidewalk before using his body to push her head toward the concrete.
When several teenagers move toward Casebolt, he lets her go and takes several steps toward them. As they back up and then turn to flee, he pulls out his gun and approaches before two other officers appear to intervene.
Casebolt can be seen running through the confused crowd while swearing and appearing to randomly handcuff teenagers, who protested that they had just arrived for the pool party.
“A fight between a mom and a girl broke out and when the cops showed up everyone ran, including the people who didn’t do anything,” Brandon Brooks, who uploaded the video to YouTube, wrote in the description. “So the cops just started putting everyone on the ground and in handcuffs for no reason.”
The police statement said the video “has raised concerns that are being investigated” by the department. The officer is on leave pending the outcome, Conley said.
One man was arrested for interference with the duties of a peace officer and evading arrest, Conley said. Everyone else was released.
McKinney Mayor Brian Loughmiller said in a written statement that he was “disturbed and concerned by the incident and actions depicted in the video.” He called for the city and police to quickly investigate.
Confrontations involving white law enforcement and black suspects have raised concerns across the U.S., in particular since last August, when a white police officer fatally shot a black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri. Michael Brown’s death fueled sometimes-violent protests and a nationwide “Black Lives Matter” movement.
Some witnesses told The Dallas Morning News that the police targeted black kids at the pool party.
“We’re not here to cause a riot or be Baltimore all over again,” McKinney resident La’Shadion Anthony said. “We’re just here to be treated fairly and equally.”
But Benét Embry, a local radio personality who is black, said the police officer’s action was not about race.
“This is not another Ferguson. This is not another Baltimore. This was a teenage party that got out of hand,” said Embry, who lives in the neighborhood and said he witnessed the disturbance and police action.
Embry told The Associated Press that, according to neighbors, a woman who lives in the community reserved the pool for a party. Embry said that homeowners’ association rules limit the number of guests each homeowner may have at the pool to only two. But about 130 people, mostly kids, showed up for the woman’s party, he said.
At one point, several kids began jumping over the fence to get into the pool area and were causing a disturbance, Embry said, and a couple of fights broke out.
Embry said the situation was getting out of hand and that the police were right to respond.
“That’s what they are supposed to do: protect us,” Embry said. “I don’t know any other way he could have taken her down or established order.”
While he did not agree with the officer’s profanity or belligerence, Embry said, “He was trying to defuse the situation.”
Two white female neighbors, who did not want to be named, said they too did not think it was a racial incident and noted that while McKinney is predominantly white, their neighborhood is diverse, with black, Asian and Indian families living in the planned community. McKinney is about 35 miles northeast of Dallas.
This story contains material from The Washington Post.