Before I begin, two things to keep in mind: (1) Despite the current craze for police body cameras, they will not necessarily protect police officers from firings and criminal charges that are politically driven. Where “social justice” rather than the rule of law is concerned, it doesn’t matter whether they were right or not. (2) There is an important standard of which many people are unaware: were an officer’s actions within the reasonable exercise of professional discretion? More on both later.
By now, I’m sure most SMM readers are aware of the debacle in McKinney, TX. I’ve not written on the topic until now to allow more or the facts to become known, and until I was reasonably sure I could contribute something I had not yet seen on the Internet. I recommend Andrew Branca’s report at Legal Insurrection for those seeking more in-depth initial reporting, and for solid legal analysis. Branca and I often find ourselves complementing each other’s ideas.
What is known is straightforward. A private pool party, with private security, was crashed due to a fake social media invitation. Many “teens” (I suspect some were somewhat older) that were not invited showed up, and after being told to leave, actually climbed over a security fence. They caused property damage, disturbances and fights, and many were reported to be drinking and smoking pot. After several security personnel were assaulted, the police were called.
One of the factors that has been underreported–or unreported–is that many, perhaps even most, of the party crashers/criminals were black. The incident had racial overtones only in that, not in any racial acts or animosity on the part of the police. Consider this from Brietbart:
One resident, Benet Embry, a black man, posted on Facebook about the events leading up to the police call. ‘Look, I LIVE in this community and this ENTIRE incident is NOT racial at all,’ Embry wrote. ‘A few THUGS spoiled a COMMUNITY event by fighting, jumping over fences into a PRIVATE pool, harassing and damaging property. Not EVERYTHING is about RACE. WE have other issues that NEED our attention other flights of made up make believe causes.’
In another post he is critical of media coverage of the incident. ‘I’ve never seen such irresponsible reporting and miss management of media resources in my life,’ he said.
Embry wasn’t alone:
Another McKinney resident, Bryan Gestner, posted on Facebook, ‘This was a Twitter party that turned into a mob event. Jumping pool fence. Assaulting 2 security guards, attacking a mother with three little girls. The video doesn’t show everything.’ He continued saying the kids were drinking and ‘smoking weed’ and they would not listen to any of the adults around the pool.
‘This isn’t about race,’ he continued. ‘This is about outside kids invading our neighborhood and had no respect for authority or the residents here. I have a target on my back now and I have been threatened by these punks that they are gonna shoot up my house when all I did was try to control the mob and actually tended to the girl and the boy that had a bloody lip.’
‘Yall don’t know the whole story,’ Gestner continued. ‘I commend the officer for handling this situation.
As police officers, including Eric Casebolt, arrived, they learned that the interlopers have been ordered to leave but refused. Take the link to Branca’s article to see video of the incident, but keep in mind that the video does not record everything that happened before the arrival of the police, nor even everything that happened while they were there. Eventually, twelve officers were present, which was likely every officer available at the time. In other words, the police were constantly surrounded and outnumbered by people who were, for the most part non-compliant, and sometimes, hostile and threatening. The video clips show several different officers actively pursuing young thugs.
Casebolt repeatedly told one Dajerria Becton, a young lady wearing a bikini, and her friends to leave, but they did not. Eventually, the police told all of the interlopers to sit down. All of these actions on the part of the police were entirely reasonable and lawful, as well as smart.
a large part of the problem is that Becton is black and Casebolt has the great misfortune to be white. Many media account express outrage at the mere thought and image of a white police officer restraining a black girl, as though there could be no reason for that sort of thing, and as though any officer doing it could not possibly be justified and must have been engaging in obscene racial provocation.
Eventually, Casebolt decided to restrain, perhaps to arrest Becton, and took her to the ground, on the grass, not pavement. Becton later claimed that Casebolt abused her, grabbing her “braids” (her hair), but the video of the incident–notice the screenshot above–merely shows Casebolt placing his hand on the back of her neck, over her hair, as he guides her to the ground. Everything Casebolt did was completely within the law and reasonable police procedure. Becton physically and verbally resisted Casebolt.
As Casebolt initially took Becton to the ground–apparently to force her to sit down–a group–approximately four–of her female friends rushed Casebolt, coming within inches of him, forcing him to release Becton, who continued to resist, to push them back. Another man, apparently a resident, helped Casebolt, and stood between him and the girls, his arms outspread to keep them away as they screamed and continued to push toward Casebolt.
Within seconds, as Casebolt again knelt to deal with Becton, two young men aggressively rushed Casebolt from the other side, in effect, pinning him between them and the group of aggressive and shouting girls who were still pressing in on him. Their posture and motions would have been interpreted as threatening by any police officer. At this point, they were violating numerous laws, including interfering with an officer, perhaps even assault.
Casebolt let go of Becton, rose, and drew his handgun. As he reached for it, the two young men, one of them 18-year old Adrian Martin–an adult–ran away. All of this happened within a few seconds. Casebolt did not point his handgun at them, nor did he shoot them or anyone. At that moment, two other officers ran up to Casebolt, he obviously pointed out the two young men, and those officers immediately pursued them, running quickly off.
Casebolt again turned his attention to Becton, holstered his handgun, and took her to the ground once again. Throughout his contacts with Becton, Casebolt did not once use excessive or abusive force. At one point, he kept her on the ground by placing his shin–his entire lower leg–on her back, which was universally reported as Casebolt placing his knee in her back, a very different connotation.
As I watched the video–multiple times to be sure I wasn’t missing anything–I saw Casebolt do nothing–nothing–wrong, and absolutely nothing criminal. I was taken back to similar situations with which I dealt during my patrol days. Officers often find themselves dealing with loud and destructive parties. On many occasions, I found myself surrounded, outnumbered, and facing groups of non-compliant, even hostile young people who were obviously trying to decide whether they could get away with ignoring, or even attacking, me.
Crowds are inherently dangerous, and crowds of young people are the most dangerous of all. They have poor impulse control, and their individuality hidden in the mob, are prone to do things they would never do on their own, or if accompanied by only a few friends.
In such situations, police officers have wide latitude in restoring order. They may surely order people to leave. If they don’t leave, they may restrain them, or use other reasonable force, as necessary to force them to leave. They may arrest them, and use whatever force is necessary to make such arrests. Evidently, few were arrested, but Martin was one. Becton was not arrested and was released to her parents, nor was she injured. If so, there was no media report of injury. If there were any injuries at all, I’ve no doubt that would have been front-page news for days.
I happened to catch Martin and his attorney on Hannity, and was not surprised to see them both lying. Martin claimed he didn’t aggressively approach Casebolt and only wanted to tell Becton he would call her mother. Hannity showed video of exactly what Martin did, and Martin claimed he didn’t mean to get close to the officer, but his friend “bumped” him several times, knocking him toward Casebolt. By all means, view the video yourself. I suspect, like me, you’ll see no such bumping.
Martin’s attorney argued that merely drawing his handgun was sufficient cause to justify fire Casebolt–so did many others–and others castigated Casebolt and other officers for using strong language. This too is nonsense. Police officers often have to use strong language merely to get the attention of people for whom much worse language is the primary component of their limited vocabulary. Officers certainly have to deal with every element in society and can’t use obscenities in dealing with nuns or lecturing schoolchildren. As a supervisor, I sometimes took complaints from citizens about officer’s colorful language, but absent an officer clearly using inappropriate language in a situation that could not reasonably call for or justify it, all that was necessary was a quick admonition that they needed to be a bit more careful in the future. For most officers, that was sufficient.
In this situation, Casebolt’s language was not out of bounds.
As more and more news reports were made in the days following the initial incident, I kept a close eye out for Officer Casebolt’s future. As is usual in such cases, he was administratively suspended. I knew his Chief would have essentially two options: support Casebolt to at least some degree, or fire him outright. Given the current social justice climate, particularly where any black people are involved–Becton and Martin are black–I expected Casebolt’s chief to throw him under the bus. Sadly, I was right.
It took only a few days, and Casebolt’s chief abandoned him, and badly wounded his own agency as well as police officers around the nation. From the Dallas Morning News:
[Chief Greg] Conley emphasized that 11 out of 12 officers on scene ‘performed according to their training.’ He decried those who violated community rules and disrespected authorities during the incident, but also made clear that Casebolt, as a police officer, is held to a higher standard.
‘Our policies, our training and our practice do not support his actions,’ Conley said during a press conference Tuesday evening.
Conley went on claim that Casebolt was out of control. In my many viewings of that incident, I did not, for a moment, see an out of control officer. When rushed by multiple teenaged girls, all Casebolt did was push them back, once. Seconds later, when aggressively rushed by two young men, Casebolt drew his handgun, but did not so much as point it at them, and quickly reholstered it. Turning his attention again to Becton, he did not use excessive force.
Casebolt quickly resigned. He had no choice. It was clear his chief had completely abandoned him. His career in the police agency was over. He was already getting many credible death threats, and so were his fellow officers. Like Darren Wilson, he resigned in part to take the heat off his fellow officers to whatever degree he could.
I’ll continue my coverage of this incident with an education article that will be posted on Monday, June 15. Why an education article? Because a high school principal in another state has lost his job for the crime of expressing support for Eric Casebolt.
I will also post another article the week of June 15th on Casebolt’s resignation, and the aftereffects thereof, not only for McKinney, Texas, but for the rest of the nation. I’ll be particularly focusing on a little-known movement by Progressives to not only make black people essentially immune to arrest, but to federalize law enforcement.
For the moment, remember that we hold police officers to what can amount to impossible standards. We expect them to deal with inherently unreasonable, violent and dangerous people, to make the right decision under incredible stress and within seconds, and to do and say precisely the right thing 100% of the time. When we lack the intelligence and common sense to give police officers the benefit of the doubt, when we expect the impossible, we harm not only those officer and their families, but ourselves. The danger of that is only now becoming obvious to many Americans.
As I’ll outline in the next article, the danger is greater than we imagine.
Note: My article on a Florida educator removed from his job for daring to express support for Officer Casebolt is available here.