Stress not an excuse for police brutality

By Isabelle Cavazos, COLUMNIST
On June 14, 2015

Police brutality against black men and women are constantly in the news throughout the U.S., frequently reminding the nation where law enforcement falls short. Yet, one officer apparently wants a pardon for being under too much stress.

A recent cellphone video captured by a 15-year-old boy attending a pool party in McKinney, Texas caught former Cpl. David Eric Casebolt shove a 15-year-old girl’s face into the grass and wave his handgun at three boys to get them to leave, according to the New York Times. Since being placed on administrative leave and eventually resigning from the McKinney Police Department, Casebolt gave a half-formed apology last week through a statement from his lawyer.

What prompted a call to the police in the first place, according to the Times, was the party becoming “out of control” after a security guard at the suburban community pool turned away more teens than allowed in the area. Upon Casebolt’s arrival, he is seen shouting profanities at the teens and trying to get rid of them until he grabs Dajerria Becton, who had lingered, and unreasonably forces her to the ground as she cries for her mother.

Rather than admit his overuse of force clearly seen in the video, Casebolt’s lawyer, Jane E. Bishkin, said Casebolt was under extreme emotional stress that day after answering two suicide calls earlier, one in which a man shot himself in front of his family and another being a teenage girl’s suicide attempt where he calmed the girl down, as the Times reported.

Yet, the attention Casebolt draws to himself in his apology downplays the wrongs he committed against Becton and the boys he threatened. 

His attempt at empathy after the video only further affirms that having a hard day doesn’t excuse creating a horrifying event as if his position of control could justify his behavior. While someone doesn’t have to be an officer to realize it’s a stressful job, it’s still an officer’s responsibility to never let that stress out on others.

Though his apology goes out “to all who were offended,” his reaction showed no sensitivity and leaves many activists wondering if Casebolt would have responded as he did if the teens were white. 

It’s not impossible to say race did play a role. For instance, the boy who filmed the scene recently spoke out saying he was one of the few white people there at the moment, and that Casebolt demanded his black friends to sit down while skipping over him. He told Buzzfeed News that he felt “invisible” in comparison to the minorities being put to the ground.

According to CNN, once the video was released on YouTube, the Texas NAACP held meetings under the suspicion that what happened was about race, and, as reported by Yahoo News, Casebolt previously jailed an African-American man for a broken headlight and faced a suit from another man for racial profiling and excessive force.  

Considering this, along with his unnecessary aggression against a teenager, the sincerity of his apology is hard to swallow, especially when “he never intended to mistreat anyone.” Hopefully as the police department comes to a decision on whether to charge him, his excuses and intentions don’t overshadow what actually happened on tape. 

Isabelle Cavazos is a senior majoring in English and Spanish.

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