Hundreds of demonstrators marched Monday night to the pool where a white police officer pinned a black teenage girl to the ground and pulled a gun on others over the weekend. The protesters carried signs that included the phrases, "My skin color is not a crime."
Some community activists in McKinney, an affluent, predominantly white Dallas suburb, have accused Eric Casebolt, a 41-year-old officer, of racism in an incident caught on video that quickly drew national attention. Others urged calm until the facts are investigated.
According to neighbors, a woman who lives in the community reserved the pool for a party, said Benét Embry, a black local radio personality who witnessed Friday's incident. About 130 people, mostly kids, showed up. At one point, several kids began jumping over the fence to get in and were causing a disturbance, Embry said, and a couple of fights broke out.
"This was a teenage party that got out of hand," Embry said. Police said some of the young people did not live in the area and did not have permission to be at the pool.
In the video captured by a teenager, the girl in a bikini repeatedly cries out, "Call my momma!" as Casebolt pins her to the ground, only moments after drawing his handgun on other black teens. "On your face!" he yelled at the girl, amid screaming from a crowd of onlookers.
Casebolt has been placed on administrative leave. In a statement, the police department said the video "raised concerns that are being investigated."
The girl said Casebolt told her to walk away but forced her down after "he thought we were saying rude stuff to him," according to an interview she gave to television station KDFW.
"He grabbed me, twisted my arm on my back and shoved me in the grass and started pulling the back of my braids," Dajerria Becton, 15, said. "I was telling him to get off me because my back was hurting bad."
"I understand how he was feeling, everybody surrounding him," she said. "I don't think he should have pulled a gun out on 15-year-old kids."
Brandon Brooks, the teen who recorded the video, told KDFW that tensions rose after a white woman and a black teenager had an altercation. He said the white woman told the teen "to go back to Section 8 housing," a reference to federal housing aid given to low-income families.
Brooks said the officer was "out of line" and that he felt compelled to keep filming when Casebolt pulled out his gun.
"At that point, my heart did drop and I was scared that someone was going to get shot and possibly killed," he said.
McKinney Mayor Brian Loughmiller said city officials plan to meet with community leaders. "We really need to come together as a community," the mayor said.
Most people were released, except for one man arrested for interference with the duties of a police officer and evading arrest, police said.
Casebolt was accused in a federal lawsuit of racial profiling and excessive force during a 2007 arrest. He and other officers arrested Albert Brown Jr., who authorities say was found with crack cocaine during a traffic stop. Brown, who is black, sued Casebolt and the officers, accusing them of forcibly searching him after pulling down his pants and slamming his head against a car hood. An attorney for Casebolt and the other officers denied Brown's accusations. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2009.