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Another use of excessive force from police officers on unarmed black civilians. Another citizen-recorded video, uploaded to the Internet. Another round of outrage. And another police officer suspended.
This time it was in McKinney, Texas, a Dallas suburb, and it was a white officer throwing a young black girl in a bikini to the ground, pulling his gun on other teens nearby, and then slamming her face into the ground while kneeling on her back. The officer, identified as Eric Casebolt, is on administrative leave, and the chief of the McKinney Police Department said the video "raised concerns and the department is investigating."
The video itself is less than ten minutes long and the details surrounding the incident are scarce, leading to conflicting opinions on whether the officer was justified in his use of force and drawing his weapon on unarmed bystanders.
A spokeswoman for the police department said officers were responding to calls regarding "multiple juveniles at the location, who do not live in the area or have permission to be there, refusing to leave." Teens attending the pool party said trouble started when white adults made racist comments and tired to keep young black attendees away from the pool.
The department contends that the crowd "refused to comply with police commands," and Officer Casebolt appears agitated in the video and sounds like he gave conflicting orders to several teens before throwing the young female, who has yet to be identified, to the ground.
Victims of excessive force may have some recourse against overly aggressive police officers. The Civil Rights Act allows citizens to file police brutality lawsuits under Section 1983, which prohibits government officials from depriving citizens of a constitutional right.
In this case, a suit may be based on the Fourth Amendment's ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. The girl will likely have to demonstrate that the officer lacked probable cause for the arrest, defined as a reasonable belief, based on facts and circumstances, that a person has committed it a crime.
At this time it is unknown whether the girl or her family plan to sue Officer Casebolt, the McKinney Police Department, or the city.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.