On Thursday, a grand jury refused to indict Eric Casebolt, the white police officer who was recorded throwing a black girl to the ground at a pool party in McKinney, Texas, last summer.
"We’re glad that the system worked in his favor in this case," Tom Mills, Casebolt’s attorney, told the Dallas Morning News.
Casebolt arrived at a neighborhood pool party after white residents called the police to report that black kids who were hosting a cookout at the residential community pool were creating a disturbance.
Tatyana Rhodes, 19, who lived in the neighborhood, had organized the event. Nonetheless, white residents were upset, and harassed the teens with racist statements.
One of the attendees, 15-year-old Miles Jai Thomas, told the Huffington Post that the security guard tried to remove the partygoers, at one point "making up rules to keep us out." Other white residents told the teens to go back to "Section 8 [public] housing," even though some of the teens were residents of the neighborhood and visitors had followed protocol to host the party there.
Tensions escalated when Casebolt threw an unarmed young black woman to the ground. The officer also aimed his gun at other teens around. After a video recording of the altercation went viral on social media, Casebolt resigned. Nonetheless, the grand jury decided there was insufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against him.
The McKinney Police Department plans to hold a community forum on Monday. But the non-indictment decision does little to dismantle existing racial biases in policing.
Studies show that America’s criminal justice system is racist. African Americans are more likely to be incarcerated and to receive harsher sentences for the same crime as their white counterparts. And in a 2014 study by the American Psychological Association, researchers tested 176 police officers — mostly white and male — and found that most displayed an unconscious "dehumanization bias" against black people.
Teenagers, like those at the McKinney pool party, are not exempt. The same study also found that those who were most likely to display this bias were also more likely to place children in police custody. The study also showed that black children, starting at the age of 10, are considered older and "significantly less innocent" than their white counterparts.
The grand jury’s decision not to indict Casebolt demonstrates how difficult it can be for black children to just be treated like children. And, even worse, it suggests that police officers will not have to face repercussions for refusing to recognize these children’s humanity.