Texas Pool Party Teen Speaks Out, Says Police Violence "Was About Race"
A 13-year-old African-American girl who recorded a video of the disturbing police response to a pool party in McKinney, Texas, spoke out about the incident, which has now garnered national attention. Jahda Bakari called the McKinney pool party arrests racist, as it becomes more clear that the police officers were predominantly targeting black teens. The police officers in the video previously stated in interviews that the black teens were trespassing, but the narrative continues to change as more teens come forward.
"I honestly believe it was about race because mostly they did nothing to the Caucasians," Bakari told CBS affiliate KTVT in Dallas. Bakari added that she felt like the officer who can be seen in the video briefly pulling out his gun from the holster "was actually getting ready to hurt someone."
The officer, who can also be seen in the video grabbing, mandhandling and kneeing a teenage black girl in the back, has been identified as Cpl. Eric Casebolt. The officer was placed on administrative leave as the department opens an investigation into the incident, McKinney Police Chief Greg Conley said at a news conference Sunday.
"Several concerns about the conduct of one of the officers at the scene have been raised," Conley added. "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 our citizens."
The pool party reportedly escalated when police officers arrived on the scene and began corralling some of the teenagers. From the video, it appears only the black teens at the pool party were detained by the officers, including Casebolt, who can be seen running after the teens and holding one girl, wearing only a bright-colored girl, on the ground with his knees.
"They were trying to make us leave, but if we ran, they'd chase after us, and if we stayed, then they'd arrest us," Bakari told KTVT.
Conley said on Sunday that the teen girl who was wrestled to the ground by Casebolt was not arrested. However, she was detained for several hours.
A statement released Sunday morning from the McKinney Police Department described the incident:
On June 5, 2015 at approximately 7:15 p.m., officers from the McKinney Police Department responded to a disturbance at the Craig Ranch North Community Pool. The initial call came in as a disturbance involving multiple juveniles at the location, who do not live in the area or have permission to be there, refusing to leave. McKinney Police received several additional calls related to this incident advising that juveniles were now actively fighting.
The statement added that Casebolt's conduct in the video "raised concerns," triggering the investigation. As for whether or not the black teenagers were actually trespassing at the neighborhood pool, which requires passes, the facts continue to be disputed. Several teenagers who attend the pool party, which was advertised on social media, told BuzzFeed news that they had pool passes and were not trespassing.
Brandon Brooks, a teenager who was at the pool party and recorded a 7-minute-long video that went viral, described the incident on YouTube:
A fight between a mom and a girl broke out and when the cops showed up everyone ran, including the people who didn't do anything. So the cops just started putting everyone on the ground and in handcuffs for no reason. This kind of force is uncalled for especially on children and innocent bystanders.
Images: screenshot/Brandon Brooks