It’s time to Break It Down!
Sadly, but necessarily, my focus for this post is the next installment of what seems to be an endless procession of, shall we say, “unfortunate” interactions between citizens and police officers. In this instance, like many, if not most of the ones preceding it, the majority of the citizens in question were African American.
According to most accounts, teens decided to throw a pool party at a local neighborhood pool in McKinney, last Friday. McKinney is a city in and the county seat of Collin County, Texas. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city’s 2010 population was 131,117, making it second in size to Plano, among cities in the County. It is the nineteenth most populous city in the state of Texas, and is part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. McKinney is located 31 miles north of Dallas.
Among cities with more than 50,000 people, the Census Bureau cited McKinney as the fastest growing city from 2000 to 2003, and again in 2006. In 2007, it was listed as the second fastest growing city among cities over 100,000 in population, and in 2008, the third fastest. In the most recent estimate, as of January 1, 2015, the city’s population was estimated at 155,142.
So right away, it is clear, the dimensions, and likely the character of what used to be a small town has been altered significantly in the last decade and a half. With that in mind, it is certainly conceivable that homogeneity has gone by the wayside, and with it some degree of tolerance. I cannot say that the resulting changes caused Friday’s incident, but it almost surely contributed.
Just what happened in this swanky burg outside Dallas? Here’s a youtube video of the incident: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpWP8aMcOo8.
By Sunday, a number of variations of the video above showed a police officer most viewers, including the Brass at the McKinney Police Department, thought was out of control in his efforts to respond to a call to curtail the actions of a raucous crowd at the pool party. The officer, Eric Casebolt, though not named initially, was quickly placed on administrative leave.
A seven-minute YouTube video shows a police officer using profanity and aggressively throwing a 15-year-old girl in a bathing suit to the ground, facedown. He then appeared to pin her down with his knees.
The girl can be heard screaming, “I want to call my mom. He hit me.”
As is common, there are conflicting views of the matter. One version of the sequencing of events involves an assertion by Tatiana Rhodes, 19, who maintained that she and some of her friends were enjoying themselves at the Craig Ranch North Community Pool when conflict with a white neighbor ensued. Ms. Rhodes said:
“This lady was saying racial slurs to some friends that came to the cookout. She was saying such things as ‘black effer,’ and “that’s why you live in Section 8 homes.’” More insults followed, according to Rhodes. One neighbor said, “Go back to your Section 8 home.” Then, by Rhodes’ account, “A white neighbor came up to me and smacked me in my face. That’s when both of the women attacked me,” said Ms. Rhodes. A photographer recorded the statement and uploaded it online.
Conversely, Brian New of CBS Dallas reported that “Many McKinney residents say that Casebolt was justified because the teens were ignoring his orders.” Well, there you have it! Comply, or face unmitigated wrath, language and physical assault by a police officer.
In the video, Officer Casebolt was recorded pinning a teen girl to the ground, handcuffing her, pulling her hair, pushing her face to the ground, and holding her down with both knees on her spine. He was also shown drawing his weapon and pointing it toward several other teens.
Yesterday, Corporal Casebolt resigned from the McKinney Police Department. Chief Greg Conley said the officer resigned voluntarily. He stated at a press conference:
“Officer David Eric Casebolt’s actions were “indefensible, but he was not pressured to quit the force.”
Chief Conley also said:
“Twelve officers responded to the report of fights and a disturbance at the pool party at the Craig Ranch North Community Pool in an affluent area of western McKinney. Eleven of them performed according to their training, Casebolt did not. He came into the call out of control and the video showed he was out of control during the incident.”
The Supreme Court has held that it is legal to record police officers executing their duties. There are some states and jurisdictions that frame that right in strict parameters. However, it is crucial to note that the recent trend of video-recording such encounters has provided an incredible array of enlightenment. Thanks to a revolution in technology, i.e., virtually everyone has a video-capable cellphone; the public has regularly become party to an eye-opening series of developments when citizen and police have what devolve into brutal encounters.
The good news resulting from the McKinney incident is no one lost a life, as a result of the encounter. We can all be thankful for that. Moreover, let us hope that, in as much as a picture is worth a thousand words, we can reach a national consensus that videotaping such incidents is a good thing for all involved.
In this particular incident, it brought to light the errant ways of, what for the duration of that incident at least was, a rogue cop. Conversely, it illuminated the commitment to departmental protocol of eleven other officers. That ought to be deemed a huge and compelling benefit. And while we are contemplating the power of hope, let us hope I will have a long respite before having the need to elevate another event such as this. I doubt we’ll be so lucky, but one thing about which there is no doubt is this; “McKinney: Like It or Not; They Got Next!”
I’m done; holla back!
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