Some say there’s nothing wrong with the way a white McKinney, Tx., police officer manhandled a bikini-clad 15-year-old African American girl at a pool party, as shown in a now-infamous viral video making the rounds of the Internet.
They don’t even have a problem with him pulling his service weapon on two boys who approached to help the girl. After all, they say, the police were trying to gain control of an unruly crowd, and the teens didn’t obey the officer’s orders.
But even if you believe all of that, there’s another powerful bit of evidence that indicts Cpl. Eric Casebolt’s conduct as unbecoming an officer, if not downright illegal. And that’s the behavior of his fellow officers on the scene.
In the video clips I’ve seen, he appears to be the only officer yelling and cursing in such a hyper-aggressive, confrontational manner. He’s angry, as he himself explains, because teens ran away when cops arrived, forcing him to chase them in the Texas heat “with 30 pounds of g**damned gear on.”
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None of the other officers were shown displaying the kind of rage that consumed the veteran patrol supervisor. One officer chatted with some of the kids, advising them not to “just take off running” when cops appear. He’s displaying everything you want in a law enforcement officer. He’s approachable. Professional. Polite.
He’s getting the situation under control.
Then the enraged Casebolt appears, and starts yanking the kids onto the ground – including kids who were having the friendly chat with the first officer. Things deteriorated from there, with Casebolt’s rage and aggression toward the girl inciting the youngsters around him.
That wasn’t just bad police officer behavior. That was bad adult behavior. Any grown-up knows – or should know – that physical intimidation gets you nowhere with today’s teenagers. We all also know how infuriating it can be when kids ignore your orders.
But the fact that you’re angry because you were disobeyed does not give you the right to vent that anger like a 10th grade bully. If you’re wearing the badge and gun of law enforcement, that goes triple for you.
This particular use of force wasn’t necessary. The conduct of Casebolt’s fellow officers proves it.
News outlets reported late Tuesday that Casebolt resigned. His supporters will be tempted to blame the loss of his job on the demonstrations that cropped up after the video circulated.
But in truth, Casebolt has only himself to blame.Eric Frazier