The McKinney police officer who resigned after being captured on video manhandling a bikini-clad teen girl and drawing a gun on others apologizes to all he offended Wednesday, through his attorney, as civil rights groups call for criminal charges against him. Meanwhile, lawyer representing the teen says the officer's actions were excessive and that a resignation shouldn't end the investigation into what occurred.
Officer's Lawyer Offers Apology on His Behalf
Jane Bishkin, the attorney representing Cpl. Eric Casebolt, said the police officer responded to two suicide calls, one fatal and one involving a teenage girl who was hospitalized, before the incident at the pool and that the nature of those calls took an emotional toll on him.
"With all that happened that day, he allowed his emotions to get the better of him. Eric regrets that his conduct portrayed him and his department in a negative light. He never intended to mistreat anyone, but was only reacting to a situation and the challenges it presented. He apologies to all he offended," Bishkin said.
Casebolt is drawing national scrutiny after being recorded on video grabbing 15-year-old Dajerria Becton and slamming her head and face into the ground before pinning her with his knee. Casebolt was also recorded using profanity directed at several teens and pointing his gun at others.
Bishkin added that Casebolt was reluctant to initially respond to the incident at the pool until it was escalated to include a possible violent assault. At that point, Bishkin said, Casebolt felt it was his duty to respond.
Casebolt's lawyer said he attempted to investigate the report of violent assault by interviewing as many people as he could to determine who was involved and that he believed those who ran could have been possible suspects.
Bishkin said Casebolt was not targeting minorities and that he had also detained a white girl not seen in the video.
She added that his attempt to gather information was "hampered by some teenagers who are instructing others to defy police instructions."
Bishkin said Casebolt, who has received a number of death threats since the incident was first reported, plans to address the media at a later date.
Teen's Attorney Gathering Information, Says Officer's Actions Were Excessive
Dajerria Becton's attorney, Hannah Stroud, gave a news conference Wednesday afternoon saying that the officer's resignation should not mean the end of the investigation into what she said was an excessive use of force.
Stroud mentioned previous news conferences by both McKinney Chief of Police Gary Conley on Tuesday and Casebolt's lawyer, Jane Bishkin, on Wednesday, asserting that neither of them indicated her client had done anything wrong before being subdued by the officer.
"Miss Becton attended a pool party to which she had been invited. She was not trespassing in any shape or form. She left the scene when she was asked to by the police officer. When she asked for her bag so that she could call for her aunt, who is her legal guardian, she was pushed to the ground, grabbed by her head and her face was shoved into the ground. She was then handcuffed, she was never arrested and she's not been charged with any wrongdoing or with any offense," Stroud said.
The attorney quoted Conley from his news conference the day before, agreeing that Casebolt's actions were indefensible, but took it further to say that she believed his actions were excessive.
"That's really why we're here. Because ultimately the manner in which Miss Becton was treated was inappropriate, excessive and without cause. I would not expect to be treated, and have never been treated, by any police department or any police officer, the way that Miss Becton was. And I would doubt that any parent or reasonable person would expect their child to be treated in the same way," Stroud said.
Becton's lawyer said that while the information provided by Casebolt's attorney on the calls he answered before the disturbance at the pool give an insight into his mental state, it is not a defense for what occurred.
Meanwhile, Stroud called for both calm and an end to the threats of violence directed toward the former officer.
"With regard to the threats being made against him and his family, and potentially also the local police department, in no way do we condone those things. In the same way we wouldn't condone assault against a 15-year-old, we would not condone assault or aggression against a police officer or his family," Stroud said.
Stroud said she is still gathering information and discussing with her client how to go forward, including when or if they'll file a complaint against Casebolt. She said it would take some time and discussion with the city to determine how they'll go forward, meanwhile she's requested privacy for her client so that she can enjoy her summer break.
"It is our hope that the City of McKinney will do the right thing here, and we believe that they will. We are also ready to pursue the necessary courses or avenues if we have to. There are several and at this time we're still fact-finding so we don't know which avenues we will choose to go down," Stroud said.
Civil Rights Groups Call For Criminal Charges Against Former Officer
Earlier in the afternoon, Next Generation Action Network president Minister Dominique Alexander demanded Casebolt be charged with assault and not be simply allowed to resign from the department on Wednesday, in a news conference outside the McKinney Police Department.
Alexander said he met with McKinney Chief of Police Gary Conley on Monday and asked for him to terminate Casebolt, but that the chief allowed him to resign and keep his benefits and dignity.
Next said they will not give up and will continue to push for the district attorney to charge Casebolt in the case. Additionally, they are asking that the woman seen in the video assaulting a child also be charged.
Following Next's statement, speakers with the Dallas Chapter of the NAACP, the Nation of Islam and Black Lawyers for Justice all called for more action to be taken against the former police officer.
Pamela Means, with the National Bar Association, the nation's oldest and largest national association of predominantly black lawyers, judges, educators and law students, spoke last and questioned the department's training and why Casebolt, who they said was a training officer, reacted the way he did.
Means is pushing for legislation making it a felony for police officers to not restrain other officers using excessive force.
She suggested the officer's behavior was symptomatic of other incidents in the United States between white police officers and blacks.
Means said she isn't leading the charge against America's police officers, but is seeking to remove bad police officers from their positions in law enforcement.