The White House said today it was “prudent” for the McKinney Police Department outside Dallas to put on administrative leave an officer involved in a video confrontation with teens.
Officer Eric Casebolt, 40, has been with the department for about 10 years. On Friday, he was one of the officers who responded to a compliant of a “disturbance involving multiple juveniles” at the Craig Ranch North Community Pool, “who do not live in the area or have permission to be there, refusing to leave.”
Footage of Casebolt, a vice president of the area police union, shows him pulling a gun on the teens, yelling and pulling a 15-year-old girl to the ground. The McKinney Fraternal Order of Police said “this was not a racially motivated incident,” while the ACLU of Texas said the incident “appears to be a textbook case of overuse of force.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said at today’s press briefing that he doesn’t know if Obama has seen the video, but “he’s aware of the news coverage of that particular incident.”
“I think what is clear is that early indications are that local authorities have taken, you know, what appear to be appropriate steps. They have placed that officer on leave. And again, without knowing any of the details here, but that seems like a prudent thing for them to do,” Earnest said.
“But ultimately, what steps they need to take and what the investigation yields about what exactly happened there is still something that — that’s going to take a few more days at least to determine.”
Earnest said the incident “goes back to something that the president’s been talking about quite a bit over the last several months, which is that there’s a strong benefit to police forces working effectively to build the trust and confidence of the communities that they’re sworn to serve and protect.”
“And I think understandably, graphic incidents, like the one that we saw depicted on that video, do have a detrimental impact on the relationship between local law enforcement and the local community. And, you know, I think that’s evident from some of the news coverage and public statements of people who live in that community,” he added.
News coverage has shown local residents split on their thoughts of the police, with some supporting the officer’s actions and some saying he went too far.
“But again, based on very early evidence here, it appears that local authorities understand the need to protect that trust and are trying to take steps consistent with that priority,” Earnest continued.
“I will say that this is a topic that the president’s 21st — the president’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing looked at carefully, and they put forward a long list of public recommendations of best practices that local law enforcement agencies can implement to enhance the trust with local communities,” he added.
“And so that obviously is something that we believe doesn’t just enhance the safety and security of the American public and of communities across the country, it actually makes it safer for members of local law enforcement to do their very important work.”
UPDATE: Casebolt has resigned from the police department without comment. McKinney Police Chief Greg Conley told reporters, “Our policies, our training and our practice do not support his actions. He came into the call out of control and, as the video shows, was out of control during the incident.”
“I had 12 officers on the scene and 11 of them performed according to their training,” Conley said.