NEWS: A video of police response to a pool party in McKinney, Texas, on 5 June 2015 resulted in widespread online debate and unwanted attention for several of the parties involved.
On 6 June 2015, footage of police response to a crowd gathered at a pool party in McKinney, Texas, was uploaded to YouTube and quickly became the social controversy of the moment. As noted in an earlier article on this site, the incident in McKinney began with a 911 call summoning police to a party at the Craig Ranch North Community Pool. A teenager on the scene (later identified as Brandon Brooks, age 15) uploaded video he captured during the raid, a clip that soon led to national attention, debate, and outrage.
Most notably, Brooks’ video depicted the actions of Officer Eric Casebolt as he interacted with numerous teenagers present at the party. Around the clip’s three-minute mark, Casebolt is seen first restraining a teenage, swimsuit-clad girl and then aiming a gun at two teenaged boys:
At a 9 June 2015 press conference, McKinney Police Department Chief Greg Conley confirmed that Casebolt had resigned from the force. Conley described Casebolt’s response as “out of control,” and said that officers should be held to more stringent standards regarding their actions than civilians are:
I had 12 officers on the scene, and 11 of them performed according to their training. They did an excellent job. Our citizens called us to a fight in progress and general disturbance at the community pool. We responded. I do not condone the actions of those individuals who violated the rules of community, showed disrespect to the security person on scene, and to the officers who responded. However, we as a department are held to a high standard of action as we do our jobs.
On 11 June 2015, Casebolt’s lawyer Jane Bishkin apologized on his behalf “to all who were offended” by the former officer’s actions in the video. Bishkin said her client’s behavior seen in the footage was due to a stress-induced reaction that followed two earlier (unrelated) incidents involving a suicide and an attempted suicide:
The nature of these two suicide calls took an emotional toll on Eric Casebolt. With all that had happened that day, he allowed his emotions to get the better of him.
Hannah Stroud, a lawyer for Dajerria Becton (the teenage girl shown being restrained by Officer Casebolt in the video), called for police to continue an investigation into Casebolt’s actions despite his resignation:
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 acknowledged the explanation of Casebolt’s possible mindset at the time of the incident but said that information did not constitute a defense of his actions.
Casebolt was not the only individual affected by the impact of the incident in McKinney. Sean Toon, a Craig Ranch resident who later claimed he placed the 911 call, appeared on Fox News to discuss the incident and its aftermath. Following that appearance, BuzzFeed published an article titled “This Man Speaking Out About the McKinney Pool Party Isn’t Telling the Full Story,” claiming Toon had elided relevant information in interviews after the incident:
What Toon has failed to mention, though, is that he was part of a group of adults that, according to teens at the pool party, initially made racist comments to the mostly black youths, sparking a violent fight.
“I’m 100% sure that he said, ‘You should go back to the Section 8 [public] housing where you’re from because you don’t belong in our neighborhood,’” Grace Stone, a 14-year-old white McKinney resident who defended her black friends, [said]. “That’s when I went off. I called him an asshole. He had no right to say that. You shouldn’t be that hateful. That’s when [one of Toon’s female acquaintances] came up to me and said, ‘You don’t talk to adults like that.’ She was saying I needed to do something with my life and find a nice path for myself.”
In their lengthy follow-up coverage to the incident, BuzzFeed also reported that Toon (who supported Casebolt’s forceful behavior) was himself a convicted felon:
What the Fox hosts didn’t make clear, though, was that Toon, who has publicly supported the heavy law enforcement response, also has an extensive criminal background. Records show that in 1999 he was convicted of felony criminal mischief. According to an APBNews.com article posted to a chat group in 1999, Toon was among four teens charged with breaking into a barn, beating at least 12 turkeys to death, and spray-painting the animals with his school’s colors to celebrate a football victory. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice confirmed he spent 285 days in jail. Records show he was also arrested in 1999 for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Toon’s wife Shannon Barber Toon told the Guardian that Toon did not wish to comment on the newly reported information. Social media users widely mocked Toon over the 911 call using the hashtag #SeanToon911.
Another adult allegedly involved in the altercation has been placed on administrative leave. After the video was initially circulated, viewers isolated still images of a then-unidentified white woman who was involved in a part of the pool party fracas:
Social media users initially claimed that the woman’s name was Tracey Carver-Allbritton, and that she was an employee of Bank of America. The Dallas Morning News‘s Crime Blog later confirmed that the woman in question was employed with CoreLogic (a Bank of America vendor) and not Bank of America. The site did not confirm Carver-Allbritton’s name but did verify that a CoreLogic employee had been suspended due to her alleged involvement in the McKinney pool party incident:
The woman who is accused of starting the fight that led to the pool party confrontation had also been placed on administrative leave at her job at a data analysis and technology support company.
“CoreLogic does not condone violence, discrimination or harassment and takes conduct that is inconsistent with our values and expectations very seriously,” her employer, CoreLogic, said in a statement. “As a result of these pending allegations, we have placed the employee in question on administrative leave while further investigations take place.”
Separately, a Texas schoolteacher (initially uninvolved with the McKinney pool party incident) was “relieved of her duties” on 11 June 2015 after she published a status update to Facebook in reaction to Casebolt’s resignation. Lubbock television station KBCD transcribed that 9 June 2015 Facebook post made by Karen Fitzgibbons, a former fourth-grade teacher at Bennett Elementary School in Lubbock:
“This makes me ANGRY! This officer should not have to resign. I’m going to just go ahead and say it…the blacks are the ones causing the problems and this “racial tension.” I guess that’s what happens when you flunk out of school and have no education. I’m sure their parents are just as guilty for not knowing what their kids were doing; or knew it and didn’t care. I’m almost to the point of wanting them all segregated on one side of town so they can hurt each other and leave the innocent people alone. Maybe the 50s and 60s were really on to something. Now, let the bashing of my true and honest opinion begin…GO! #imnotreacist #imsickofthemcausingtrouble #itwasagatedcommunity”
On 11 June 2015, the station published a statement by Fitzgibbons in which she apologized for the (subsequently deleted) Facebook post. On the same day, KCBD published a statement from Frenship Independent School District in which the teacher’s termination was confirmed:
Frenship ISD is deeply disappointed in the thoughtlessness conveyed by this employee’s post. We find these statements to be extremely offensive, insensitive, and disrespectful to our Frenship community and citizens everywhere. These comments in no way represent the educational environment we have created for our students.
The employee whose account is responsible for the post will be relieved of her teaching duties at Frenship ISD.
Finally, North Miami Senior High School Principal Alberto Iber (also initially uninvolved with, and not present at, the McKinney pool party incident) was transferred from his position to an administrative role following a comment he posted to a Miami Herald article using his Facebook account. Iber commented that Casebolt “did nothing wrong,” adding he “[commended Casebolt] for his actions.”