Community leaders and parents in the Texas town of McKinney have called for charges to be brought against the police officer caught on video manhandling a teenage girl at a pool party.
The officer, identified in local media as Eric Casebolt, has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation after footage of him drawing a gun and pushing the teenager to the ground, emerged.
The incident has sparked outcry and anger. Many have accused the police officer, who was white, of acting as he did because the teenagers were black. Other members of the community raised their voices to defend the officer.
The girl was in the video identified as Dajerria Becton, but community leaders said on Monday that she would not be speaking publicly about the incident, after she earlier told KDFW that she had been following police’s orders when she was pushed to the ground.
Jahi Adisa Bakari, claimed his 13-year-old daughter was also at the event and told reporters she had been struck when she came to Dajerria’s rescue.
“I don’t like grown men touching my girls,” said Mr Bakari, according to NBC. “This guy was just out of control. He should be drug-tested, then fired.”
He added: “He pulled the gun out on teenagers. That’s the one thing I give him credit for: he didn’t pull the trigger. If he had, this McKinney would be another Ferguson 100 times over.”
The video released over the weekend shows the veteran police officer pulling the girl – who is wearing only a bathing suit - to the ground, then appearing to use his knees to pin her face down. He can also be seen pointing his gun at other teens and cursing.
McKinney Police Chief Greg Conley told reporters on Sunday that police had been sent to the Craig Ranch North Community Pool around 7.15 pm on Friday after receiving an emergency call. The caller claimed that teenagers who were not from the area, were fighting in a swimming pool.
The community leaders and parents who spoke Monday said the teens had “every right” to be at the pool, and that they were there for a pool party and cook-out hosted by a mother and her two teenage daughters.
Brandon Brooks, the bystander who recorded the video on his cell phone, told NBC the fight had ended by the time the cops arrived, but responding officers began chasing people and throwing them on the ground.
“When I started the video was right after all the kids who got put on the ground had gotten up and ran away. The cop was chasing after all those kids, just putting every black person he saw on the ground,” he said.
The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) said its leadership was meeting on Monday with Mr Conley, who promised a “complete and thorough investigation”.
“The excessive force on an unarmed 14-year-old girl clad only in a bikini by an officer wearing a uniform and a gun, was particularly troubling,” NAACP president Cornell William Brooks said in a statement.
“These teens appeared to be simply attending a pool party and deserved respectful treatment under the law.”Reuse content