Police in the southern U.S. state of Texas are investigating the actions of an officer who threw an unarmed teenage girl to the ground after being called to break up a pool party. The officer resigned from the force on Tuesday. But with increased national scrutiny on how race and force are handled by law enforcement, activists are again crying foul over the latest case of what they see as excessive use of force.
What started as a pool party in this town north of Dallas ended with handcuffs, and drawn weapons.
Community residents tried to shut down the party Friday, claiming the teens were not allowed at the pool. Then, the police arrived.
One teen recorded video as Officer Eric Casebolt of the McKinney Police Department tackled 15-year-old Dejerria Becton.
"He told me to keep walking and I kept walking and I guess he thought we were saying rude stuff to him. He grabbed me, twisted my arm on my back and shoved me in the grass and started pulling the back of my braids. I was telling him to get off me because my back was hurting bad," said Becton.
As with other allegations of excessive use of force caught on camera, different witnesses tell different stories. One woman who saw the incident defended the police.
"He grabbed her arm, she started resisting, they were just doing the right thing when these kids were fleeing and using profanity and threatening security guards," she said.
Activists are calling for transparency and swift action in the investigation. Among them, the Texas branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, whose Satinder Singh spoke via Skype:
"Here, allegedly, what the police have said so far is the kids were trespassing," said Singh. "Which is a crime, yes. But the question becomes - and this is part of what smart policing, community policing is - is this the best response at this time? Am I going to escalate the situation to the point where someone dies? Or I'm throwing a girl in a bikini on the ground and putting my weight on her? Where I felt the need to draw my gun on kids in swim trunks?"
Several teenagers were detained at the scene but only one man was charged - with interfering with police.