Lawyer: Officer didn’t target black teens at Texas pool

Published 10:14 am Thursday, June 11, 2015

DALLAS — A white Texas police officer was not targeting minorities when he wrestled a black teenage girl to the ground and brandished his gun outside a pool party, his lawyer said, but rather was fraught with emotion after responding earlier to two suicide calls.

As activists demanded Wednesday that prosecutors charge former officer David Eric Casebolt, his attorney Jane Bishkin said Casebolt apologizes for his treatment of the girl and to others offended by his actions Friday at a community pool in the Dallas suburb of McKinney.

“With all that happened that day, he allowed his emotions to get the better of him,” Bishkin said of her client, who is known to friends and family as Eric.

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However, the attorney for Dajerria Becton, the 15-year-old girl whom Casebolt subdued, said that while her client’s family appreciated Casebolt’s apology, his stress is not an adequate defense.

“There are appropriate ways to handle stress, and Officer Casebolt’s actions were in no way appropriate,” Hannah Stroud said Wednesday. Stroud also said the family will not decide on a next step until she and the city have completed their fact-finding, but they believe excessive force violated Dajerria’s civil rights.

Casebolt’s first call that day was to an apartment complex where a man had fatally shot himself in front of his wife and children, Bishkin said. The former officer of the year, who resigned Tuesday, then went to a home where a teenager was threatening to kill herself by jumping from the roof of her parents’ home.

“Eric’s compassion during these two incidents is a testament to his character,” Bishkin said, acknowledging that they had taken an “emotional toll” and made him reluctant to respond to the pool party. Ultimately, he did after hearing a violent assault had occurred, she said.