McKINNEY – Marked and unmarked police cars patrolled outside the suburban police station after officers received death threats and became increasingly concerned about backlash from a viral video.
The outrage online began after a cell phone video recorded by a white teenager on Friday shows Cpl. Eric Casebolt — who is white — throw a 15-year-old African-American girl in a bikini to the ground.
Casebolt even un-holstered his pistol at her unarmed friends as they approached, upset and in disbelief.
McKinney police have had to call in extra dispatchers to handle incoming phone calls, asking for Casebolt to be fired.
"Our initial reaction was to place the officer on administrative leave until we can conduct a complete and thorough investigation of the incident," said McKinney Police Chief Greg Conley.
McKinney police called a rare Sunday news conference to address growing community concern.
"The McKinney Police Department is committed to treating all persons fairly under the law. We are committed to preserving the peace and safety of our community for all of our citizens," added Chief Conley.
The situation began Friday afternoon when police got a call of a disturbance and fight in the Craig Ranch community. Teenagers refused to leave, Chief Conley explained.
A dozen officers responded but only one is under investigation – Casebolt, a 10-year veteran with the department.
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"I don't know if the officers really thought about the perspective that it was showing that the people that were being order to the ground were people of color. All the white people were kind of walking around – not being talked to. Not being yelled at," said Pete Schulte, a Dallas defense attorney who was also a reserve McKinney officer for four years.
Schulte said it's uncertain whether Casebolt committed a crime, but he likely violated department policy.
"I'm sure that internal affairs is investigating him for conduct unbecoming of an officer based on the profanity that was used and for the use of force whether it was appropriate to throw the 14-year-old girl down on the ground and whether it was appropriate to pull his weapon," Schulte continued.
"Having seen the YouTube video I am disturbed and concerned by the incident and actions depicted in the video. Our expectation as a City Council is that our police department and other departments will act professionally and with appropriate restraint relative to the situation they are faced with," said Mayor Brian Loughmiller in a written statement.
The department is trying to sort out what led up to it. But the video only exacerbates the raw relations between police and minorities across the country.
McKinney's chief promised transparency but asked for patience.