A Texas grand jury declined Thursday to indict a former cop who was captured on cellphone videos slamming a teenage girl and pushing her face-first into the ground as officers tried to break up a pool party.
Eric Casebolt, a white officer, was seen throwing then 15-year-old Dajerria Becton into a patch of grass and then pulling his gun on two other teens who tried to intervene.
The teenagers were African-American. Casebolt was suspended following the June 2015 incident, which sparked outrage and demonstrations in the town of McKinney, as protests churned across the country over police treatment of blacks.
Casebolt, who had once been named by the McKinney Police Department as "Officer of the Year," later resigned.
An attorney for the Bectons said the family will now file a lawsuit over the highly publicized incident. “We currently live in a time in which the public servants who are hired to protect and serve are not required to uphold the very law they are sworn to enforce,” lawyer Kim T. Cole said, according to The Dallas Morning News.
“The message is clear. Police are above the law. This must change,” Cole said.
Casebolt’s attorney, Tom Mills, said, “We’re glad that the system worked in his favor in this case,” the paper reported.
McKinney Police Chief Greg Conley also criticized Casebolt’s behavior at the time, calling his actions “indefensible” and saying the officer was "out of control."
Casebolt was one of 12 cops who arrived at the daytime party, where residents had called police to complain of overcrowding and rowdy behavior at the fenced-in swimming pool.
Casebolt is seen arguing with several teens and yelling at them to “Get your a**es out of here!”
He is seen grabbing Becton by the arm and dragging her to a section of grass where he wrestles her to the ground. The girl, who was wearing a bikini, is seen crying and screaming “Call my momma!”
As other teens watched and recorded the struggle on their cell phones, Casebolt is seen yelling, “Get out of here, or you’re going too.”
When two boys stepped up, Casebolt pulled his gun out of his holster and chased them, just as two other officers approached and appeared to intervene.
On the video, Casebolt then returns to Becton, who is lying on the grass, and pins her to the grass with his knees.
His attorneys told reporters last year that Casebolt had been under stress from two previous calls that day – one in which a husband shot himself to death in front of his family, and another where he helped talk down a girl who was threatening suicide, the paper said.
McKinney police turned the incident over to the Texas Rangers for an independent investigation. In January, the Rangers turned over the results of that inquiry to the Collin County district attorney’s office, the paper reported.
On Thursday, the McKinney Police Department issued a short statement announcing the grand jury’s decision and said officers would sponsor a community forum on Monday.