A police officer in McKinney, Texas, who was recorded throwing a black girl to the ground at a pool party has resigned, ABC News's Meghan Keneally reported.
Video showed the cop — who has been identified as Eric Casebolt — forcefully throwing the girl onto the ground, and aiming his gun at several unarmed black teens surrounding him. McKinney Police Chief Greg Conley described Casebolt's behavior as "out of control."
The video showcases yet another example of what many people are calling excessive use of force by police against black people — a topic that has been in the national spotlight since the police shooting of unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
But the video only captures part of the events that led up to the cop's actions. It doesn't show, for instance, why police were called to the pool party in the first place, and how that may have been racially motivated as well.
Partygoers said adults made racist comments and tried to keep black attendees out
Before police arrived at the scene, students were attending a pool party and cookout. Tatyana Rhodes, a 19-year-old black woman from the neighborhood who organized the event with her mom and sister, said in a video posted online that the disturbance call came after an older white woman made racist comments and fought with younger teens.
The Huffington Post's Julia Craven reported that the pool was open to everyone until a security guard arrived and removed black attendees from the area. "Then he started making up rules to keep us out," Miles Jai Thomas, 15, told the Huffington Post.
Residents of the neighborhood said the community residential pool wasn't open to everyone, and the black teens were trespassing and causing chaos at the pool. But local reporter Zahid Arab noted the event was advertised on social media, and Rhodes's mom said classmates were invited.
The pool party was advertised on social media. Homeowners say none of the nearly 70 people were allowed to be there pic.twitter.com/pZZy9htEK3
— Zahid Arab (@ZahidArabFox4) June 7, 2015
Rhodes said she organized the cookout and pool party to celebrate the end of the school year. Attendees told BuzzFeed's David Mack that some students were in the pool on guest passes, while others jumped the fence. Some teens also told BuzzFeed that adults had made racist comments at the black kids, telling them to return to "Section 8 [public] housing."
"I think a bunch of white parents were angry that a bunch of black kids who don't live in the neighborhood were in the pool," Brandon Brooks, a white 15-year-old who recorded the video above, told BuzzFeed.
At one point, Grace Stone, a white 14-year-old who's friends with Rhodes, objected to an older white woman's racist comments. Rhodes asked the white woman to stop arguing with and verbally harassing the teenagers. Rhodes said the woman then hit her in the face. A fight broke out, which Thomas recorded:
Shortly after, police arrived.
A police officer slammed a black girl onto the ground
The video recorded by Brooks shows police officers running into the scene while yelling at people to get out of the way. Casebolt, who would later pull out his gun at the black teens, is shown appearing to fall and rolling through the grass while dashing to the area.
The officers then begin ordering black teens to sit down on the grass, and some boys are handcuffed. Although the crowd is mixed-race, officers appear to target only black youth in the video. Police later said only one person was arrested.
After a few minutes on the scene, the video shows Casebolt, who was clearly agitated and yelling profanities for much of the footage, grabbing a young black girl in a bathing suit and slamming her into the sidewalk. A few of the girl's peers surround the cop and ask what he's doing. Casebolt pulls out his gun, and other officers intervene, leading the kids to disperse.
Casebolt goes back to the girl, whom he slams face-first into the grass, and holds her down with his knee pressed against her back.
The Washington Post's Peter Holley reported that Casebolt was a 10-year veteran of the force and served as vice president of McKinney's police union. He was awarded Patrolman of the Year in 2008, according to the McKinney Courier-Gazette.
Residents later put up signs thanking police for "keeping us safe."
Pool just put up this sign supporting McKinney PD & thanking officers for their response Friday pic.twitter.com/P7bC9hULCF
— Zahid Arab (@ZahidArabFox4) June 7, 2015
But others believe the cops weren't keeping anyone safe — and instead unfairly targeted a group of black kids who were simply attempting to attend an end-of-school celebration at a community pool but were harassed by white adults from the area.
What this video of young black kids in bikinis & swimsuits being brutalized displays is that police are threatened by blackness itself.
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) June 7, 2015
At least some of the people heading the pool party agreed Casebolt was out of line. Rhodes told WFAA-TV's Lauren Zakalik that the cop had no reason for acting the way he did. "He was just aggressive for no reason at all," she said. "It was horrible."
McKinney is in one of the most economically segregated metro areas in the US
One possible explanation for white residents' harsh reactions to black kids at the community pool is local segregation.
As the Pew Research Center found in 2012, residential segregation by income has increased during the past three decades in 27 of the US's 30 largest major metropolitan areas. Among the 10 largest metro areas, Pew found two in Texas — Houston and Dallas, which includes McKinney — had the worst levels of economic segregation.
Since minority Americans are more likely to be poor, this type of segregation has an unequal racial impact, splitting white people and minorities by neighborhood. Other factors, such as housing policies, zoning laws, and historical settlement, can further compound these racial disparities.
As one example, the effect can be seen in this overhead visual of Dallas by the University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, which mapped racial segregation across the US:
The map above — which shows white residents as blue dots, Hispanic residents as orange dots, and black residents as green dots — visualizes a clear racial divide. Northern Dallas is almost wholly white, while southern Dallas is nearly entirely black and Hispanic. There's very little overlap from neighborhood to neighborhood.
McKinney has dealt with issues surrounding racial segregation in the past, as well. In 2009, the city and its housing authority were sued by a local group over housing discrimination after local officials rejected a proposal to build more affordable and low-income housing to help racially desegregate the area, the International Business Times's Aaron Morrison reported. Authorities agreed to a settlement that enabled the construction of more low-income housing units, but racial segregation remains a sticky issue in the region.
The racial divide may help explain why adults in a largely white neighborhood in McKinney, which is overall 64.5 percent white and 10.5 percent black, reacted so harshly to a group of black teens trying to have fun at a party in a community pool: segregation may have made it so many in the well-off community view black people as outsiders.
Police and the public hold subconscious biases against black people
Research shows that police officers and the public hold subconscious biases against black people, which could explain both why residents called the cops on a group of kids at a pool party and why the officers behaved the way they did.
As part of a study published in the American Psychological Association's Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in March 2014, researchers studied 176 mostly white, male police officers, and tested them to see if they held an unconscious "dehumanization bias" against black people by having them match photos of people with photos of big cats or apes. Researchers found that officers commonly dehumanized black people, and those who did were most likely to be the ones who had a record of using force on black children in custody.
In the same study, researchers interviewed 264 mostly white, female college students and found that they tended to perceive black children age 10 and older as "significantly less innocent" and older than their white counterparts.
"Children in most societies are considered to be in a distinct group with characteristics such as innocence and the need for protection," Phillip Goff, a UCLA researcher and author of the study, said in a statement. "Our research found that black boys can be seen as responsible for their actions at an age when white boys still benefit from the assumption that children are essentially innocent."
Other research suggests there can be superhumanization bias at work, as well, with white people more likely to associate paranormal or magical powers with black people than with other white people. And the more they associate magical powers with black people, the less likely they are to believe black people feel pain.
Dehumanization and subconscious racial biases are worrying because they may contribute to greater use of force. Studies show, for example, that officers are quicker to shoot black suspects in video game simulations. Josh Correll, a University of Colorado Boulder psychology professor who conducted the research, said it's possible the bias could lead to even more skewed outcomes in the field. "In the very situation in which [officers] most need their training," he said, "we have some reason to believe that their training will be most likely to fail them."
Black suspects are more likely to be shot and killed by police
An analysis of the available FBI data by Lind shows that US police kill black people at disproportionate rates: they accounted for 31 percent of police shooting victims in 2012, even though they made up just 13 percent of the US population. Although the data is incomplete, since it's based on voluntary reports from police agencies around the country, it highlights the vast disparities in how police use force.
Black teens were 21 times as likely as white teens to be shot and killed by police between 2010 and 2012, according to a ProPublica analysis of the FBI data. ProPublica's Ryan Gabrielson, Ryann Grochowski Jones, and Eric Sagara reported: "One way of appreciating that stark disparity, ProPublica's analysis shows, is to calculate how many more whites over those three years would have had to have been killed for them to have been at equal risk. The number is jarring — 185, more than one per week."
There were several high-profile police killings in the past year involving black suspects. In Baltimore, Mosby pressed 28 criminal charges against six police officers for the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. In North Charleston, South Carolina, Michael Slager was charged with murder and fired from the police department after shootingWalter Scott, who was fleeing and unarmed at the time. In Ferguson, Missouri, Darren Wilson killed unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown. In New York City, NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo killed Eric Garner by putting the unarmed 43-year-old black man in a chokehold.