A police officer who pointed a gun at unarmed black teenagers attending a Texas pool party claims he was facing undue stress before the event that captured national attention.
In a press conference on Wednesday, McKinney Police Corporal Eric Casebolt’s lawyer, Jane Bishkin, said the officer was agitated from responding to multiple suicide calls before arriving at the pool party.
Casebolt’s lawyer said that consoling a grieving widow and helping get a second potential suicide victim took an emotional toll on the officer.
“Eric’s compassion during those two incidents is a testament to his character,” Bishkin said, according to the Guardian.
“With all that had happened that day, he allowed his emotions to get the better of him,” Bishkin said.
In the video seen nearly 11 million times on YouTube, Casebolt is seen shouting obscenities at black youths in a multiracial crowd, shoving an African-American teenage girl, briefly pointing his gun at black youths and then throwing the bikini-clad 15-year-old to the ground and putting his knees on her back.
Many critics noted that Casebolt’s actions are part of a national trend of police brutality against unarmed black teens and children, including the fatal shootings of Michael Brown in Ferguson and 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland.
Bishkin pushed back against claims that the officer’s decision to pull out his gun was racially biased. On Wednesday, Bishkin said that the officer was simply responding to claims that an assault took place near the pool. Bishkin also mentioned that Casebolt detained a teenaged white female at the party.
McKinney Police Chief Greg Conley announced on Tuesday that Casebolt voluntarily resigned following the release of the video. In a press conference, Conley said that Casebolt was out of control and his actions indefensible, adding that 11 other officers on the scene acted professionally and responsibly.
According to Casebolt’s lawyer, the officer has received death threats and is at an undisclosed location because he fears for his family’s safety.
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