In post-Ferguson America, where every angry cop garners the attention of cameras, McKinney Texas becomes the site of yet another example of seemingly racially influenced police brutality. As many already know, a video has been spreading through the media depicting Eric Casebolt, a white McKinney police officer, using excessive force on a black bikini-clad teenage girl. When the 14 year old’s friends rushed to aid their distressed friend, Casebolt felt intimidated enough to draw his firearm.
Frustration has mounted in the week since the incident, sparked when white neighbors called the police regarding the amount of black kids in the neighborhood pool. This event does not occur in a vacuum, reminding the African American community of decades of American history when black children were driven out of community pools—which their taxes helped pay for—by white rioters.
The public has rallied for justice, demanding that the abusive cop be held to the same standards as any other citizen. The official response has been fairly vanilla, because though Casebolt was pressured to tender his resignation, the police unions and administration were quick to defend his actions. Information was released promptly regaling Casebolt as a decorated officer who had dealt with two suicide calls earlier that day. This, coupled with his military history, is given as justification for why Casebolt might have temporarily snapped.
The life of a police officer is in no way easy, and there is decent argument that degrading relationships between the police and the community they protect are only making things more stressful. It is clear to those who care to look that Casebolt experienced something similar to a panic attack as his own over-reaction began to become apparent to him, surrounded by angry children who have just learned to hate the police a little more than they did at the beginning of the day.
Yet those who watch the video cannot help but feel both amazement at the officer who barrel rolls on an empty sidewalk 50 feet away from the kids he’s there to apprehend, and horror as he picks himself up and charges from child to child, swearing and ordering them to get further into the ground. Casebolt became increasingly shrill and tense as it became clear that his orders were not being followed. This officer makes himself look like some horrid kindergarten teacher, upset that the children won’t stop making noise so he starts breaking things and screaming.
It might be possible to feel sympathy with Casebolt, seeing him panicking and pathetic, but it is impossible to feel tempted to give him a badge and a gun.
Furthermore, it’s impossible to sympathize with an administration which would like to blame this entire event on an emotional breakdown, rather than a lack of training or internal review of racial biases. After all, who in their right minds would suspect that a Texan police officer might struggle with racism?
Perhaps the most horrifying aspect of occurrences such as this is the possibility that the video is the only reason the public knows about it. As with many recent events, and with a history stained with injustice swept under the rug of racism, the police often show a proclivity towards alternative versions of the facts until video evidence refutes them utterly.
In the days where every man, woman and child carries a camera, remember that using it might help save someone’s future, or might bring meaning to someone’s death.