A pool party in McKinney, Texas, Friday has shocked the nation after footage went viral showing a white police officer cursing, threatening and ultimately slamming into the ground and handcuffing a 15-year-old African-American bikini-clad girl. At one point the officer is seen pulling out and pointing his service weapon at a group of teens.
The community is torn, the officer has been suspended and details have been scarce.
So far, this is what we know:
McKinney is a small suburb outside Dallas. According to the 2013 census, of the reported 137,643 residents of McKinney, 75 percent are white and less than 10 percent of the residents are black. In 2012 McKinney was heralded as one of the 100 best communities for young people, and in 2014 McKinney was named the best place to live in America by Money magazine.
Tatiana Rhodes, a 19-year-old McKinney resident, reportedly planned the event, which, Heavy notes, was advertised on social media. According to the flier, a group calling itself Dimepiece X Twinzz Promotions was listed as the host of the pool party, which was scheduled from 4:30 to 10 p.m. The event was deejayed by DJ Reign, a Dallas DJ who’s listed on his Twitter account as CEO of EventsHavoc! He isn’t interested in talking about the events of Friday, according to tweets on his Twitter account.
Before messaging that he had no interest in talking about Friday’s events, he reportedly fielded a few from folks who believed that he’d coordinated the pool party.
According to Twitchy, someone posting from DJ Reign’s account noted that he wasn’t near the event when it took place and that he didn’t make the fliers. In addition, posts noted that he was paid to deejay the event and nothing more. There have been conflicting reports as to how many guests were in attendance, but many outlets put the number as high as 70 teens.
Around 7:15 p.m. Friday, police arrived after receiving calls regarding teens “actively fighting” near the Craig Ranch Community North Pool. BuzzFeed News reports that some teens and adults began fighting after adults made racist comments, reportedly telling the black kids to “return to Section 8 housing.”
In a YouTube video, party organizer Rhodes said that white residents began arguing with teens, including calling the teens racial slurs and telling them to leave the pool. Rhodes said that as she was defending the teens’ rights to attend the pool party, two women approached her. She said one of the women smacked her, “and that is when both of the women attacked me.”
Rhodes added that she and most of the teens who attended the party live in the Craig Ranch community where the event was held.
Brandon Brooks, a white teen who lives in the McKinney area, recorded the footage that has gone viral of the officer slamming a teen to the ground and pulling his gun. According to the video description that accompanied the footage, Brooks wrote: “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. So the cops just started putting everyone on the ground and in handcuffs for no reason. This kind of force is uncalled for especially on children and innocent bystanders.”
Brooks later told BuzzFeed, “Everyone who was getting put on the ground was black, Mexican, Arabic. [The cop] didn’t even look at me. It was kind of like I was invisible.”
The officer who is shown on the video pulling his gun on the teens has been identified as 40-year-old McKinney Police Cpl. Eric Casebolt. He is a veteran of the Navy and has been an officer in McKinney for 10 years, according to Fox 4 News. Heavy reports that Casebolt is a patrol supervisor and is vice president of the local police union. He teaches a self-defense course and was named Officer of the Year in 2008, according to Heavy.
Since the video went viral, Cpl. Casebolt has been suspended pending an investigation into his actions, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas has released a statement condemning the officer’s use of force.
“While we don’t know all the facts about the party, the crowd, or whether a fight broke out, what we do know is that the police response, as seen on the video, appears to be a textbook case of overuse of force,” the statement reads.
“A well-trained police department would have responded more cautiously, with less hostility and using sophisticated crowd-control methods that favor de-escalation not escalation. Without question, guns were not needed and in fact risked turning a group of partying teenagers into a violent encounter that could have turned deadly,” the statement continues.
Several McKinney residents have taken to social media to dispute the reporting of the story. According to one McKinney resident, who asked that the “true story” of what happened get out, a DJ was blasting obscene music in a public area and carloads of teens where arriving in the neighborhood without permission to go to the pool. When the teens were confronted, according to the resident’s post, they began climbing the pool fence and arguing with a security guard. When residents confronted the teens, the residents say, it was they who were attacked with racial slurs and physically assaulted.
Only one arrest was made Friday, according to Fox 4 News; it was of a man who was charged with interfering with police and evading arrest.
A protest against police brutality is planned for Monday evening in McKinney.
Also on The Root: “McKinney, Texas: Rage Is Our Rightful Response to Anti-Black Racism”