Update (10:41 p.m. 6/9/2015): The New York Times reports that Cpl. Eric Casebolt, caught on video brutally restraining a Black teenage girl,has resigned, according to McKinney PoliceChief Greg Conley. Casebolt had been on administrative leave and still faces an investigation after the video of his wild behavior during an incident a community pool went viral.
Chief Conley said in a news conference:
As the chief of police, I want to say to our community that the actions of Casebolt, as seen on the video of the disturbance at the community pool, are indefensible. Our policies, our training, our practicedo notsupport his actions. He came into the call out of control, and as the video shows was out of control during the incident.
Thevideo showing the police response to an incident at a private community pool in McKinney, Texas, went viral as it showed an officer assaulting a 15-year-old girl and drawing his weapon on other Black teens. The shocking ferocity in which Cpl. Eric Casebolt of the McKinney Police engaged teenagers reinforces what studies have shown about the racial bias that Black children face at an early age.
Brandon Brooks, a white 15-year-old attending the party, recorded Cpl. Casebolt chasing kids, shouting expletives and barking orders almost exclusively to Black teens. He eventually confronts Dajerria Becton, 15, who he forcibly shoves to the ground:
“He grabbed me, twisted my arm on my back and shoved me in the grass and started pulling the back of my braids,” Becton said, according to Yahoo News. “I was telling him to get off me because my back was hurting bad.”
When her friends reacted and moved towards Becton, Casebolt drew his gun and chased them back, but Brooks, busy recording the incident, was practically ignored. “Everyone who was getting put on the ground was black, Mexican, Arabic,” he told Buzzfeed News. “[The cop] didn’t even look at me. It was kind of like I was invisible.”
The only white person who ended up in handcuffs, according to Buzzfeed, was Grace Stone, 14, who approached Casebolt wanting an explanation for the situation.”I asked why I was in handcuffs and he wouldn’t tell me,” she said.
The dehumanizing of Black youth by police is documented in a Journal of Personality and Social Psychology paper that shows that Black children, in this case boys, are routinely perceived as being older, and therefore less less innocent, by cops:
In this study, participants, despite being better versed in dealing with criminal suspects, overestimated the age of Black and Latino child crime suspects. White children, on the other hand, were not subjected to such overestimations. Again, the magnitude of the Black felony age overestimation bears repeating, as Black 13-year-olds were miscategorized as adults by police officers (average age error 4.59).
Such overestimations were present in the shooting of Tamir Rice as his relative size and age were either misperceived or exaggerated by Cleveland police apologists.
For the treatment of Black girls, the African American Policy Forum noted that Department of Education data shows Black girls were suspended at six times the rate of white girls nationally. In data collected in New York and Boston, they found even greater disparities:
In New York,the number of disciplinary cases involving black girls was more than10timesmore than those involving their white counterpartsand the number of cases involving black boys was six times the number of those involving white boys, despite there being only twice as many black students as white students.
In Boston,the number of disciplinary cases involving black girls was more than11 timesmore than those involving their white counterparts while the number of cases involving black boys was approximately eight times those involving white boys, despite there being less than three times as many black students as white students.
Rates of expulsion were even more strikingly disproportionate between black and white students, especially among girls.
Other studies show that Black students are far likelier to be extraordinarily punished from pre-school age onward, contrasted with white students who commit similar infractions, according to the Department of Education:
While black students represent 16% of student enrollment, they represent 27% of students referred to law enforcement and 31% of students subjected to a school-related arrest. In comparison, white students represent 51% of enrollment, 41% of students referred to law enforcement, and 39% of those arrested.
The mistreatment of Black children in McKinney may have started with community members who saw fit to police the recreational area. Witnesses say the incident began when a white woman allegedly used racial slurs, verbally abused Grace Stone and assaulted Tatiana Rose, 19, who hosted the public event, according to TheGrio.com:
The leader of the angry group, identified as a mother named Kate, began cursing at Rose’s young white friend, presumably for associating with black people. “So then they started verbally abusing her, saying that she needs to do better for herself, cursing at her, and I’m saying, no that’s wrong; she’s 14, you should not say things like that to a 14-year-old,” said Rose.
Rose says that’s when Kate walked up to her and smacked her in the face.
Adding to that, a second video shot by Dajerria Becton’s friend shows what appear to be white men who weren’t police officers taking it upon themselves to act on behalf of Cpl. Casebolt during his assault on Becton. What happened in McKinney, Texas, neatly falls into the pattern of implicit bias among both police officers and community members ready to think the worst of Black youths.