After McKinney police officer Cpl. Eric Casebolt was seen on video hurling a Black teen to the ground and pointing his gun at two other pool party goers in Texas on Friday, many were left wondering how in the world Casebolt would possibly be able to defend his actions.
Even in the police chief publicly deemed Casebolt’s behavior as “indefensible.”
But Jane Bishkin, the attorney representing Casebolt on the behalf of the Fraternal Order of Police as a simple explanation for the officer’s bizarre display.
“[H]is emotions got the best of him,” Bishkin explained, according to NPR.
If you’re waiting for another layer to this defense, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Bishkin insists that Casebolt was still emotionally troubled from two previous calls he responded to before he made his way to the pool party.
“His first call was a suicide at an apartment complex,” she said.
In that case, Casebolt and the other officers arrived to scene where a man had already shot himself in the head in view of his family. After that, another suicide call came in of a young girl threatening to jump off a structure. Casebolt was allegedly one of the responding officers here as well but the girl was persuaded to come back to safety.
Both calls took an “emotional toll on Eric Casebolt” and explain why he was seen barrel rolling across the grass for no apparent reason, shouting profanities at the teens, digging his knee into a teenage girls back and making a move that could have potentially exposed him to yet another tragic death.
“He does recognize that his emotions got the best of him,” Bishkin said at Wednesday’s news conference. “The prior suicide calls put him in an emotional place that he would have preferred not to be in.”
It’s important to note that there a dozen officers on the scene providing more than enough manpower for Casebolt to excuse himself if he felt unstable or unable to deal with the situation at hand.
But as Casebolt’s legal team leans heavily on the idea that he was simply too emotional after dealing with two suicide calls, the officer’s own words at the scene don’t seem to support such a theory. On video, Casebolt is heard complaining about being an officer and detesting the fact that he has to wear heavy apparel in hot weather.
But, as many critics of the officer’s actions have pointed out online, the most troubling thing about using this defense is the fact that it’s the type of excuse that may work for a police officer but has never even been taken into consideration when it comes to Black suspects.
“I’m ok with the ‘emotions got the best of him defense,” one NPR reader, El Stone, wrote. “As long as criminals get to use the same defense. You know as in—I was raised by a single mother who had a string of abusive, drug-using boyfriends. We were from a poor neighborhood where crime and gangs were rampant. Walking around the neighborhood I was racially profiled by police at least once a week. School wasn’t really an option because the teachers didn’t care and my mother had to work two jobs so she wasn’t around. I really didn’t mean to rob that convenience store, but not only did I need money for food (maybe drugs, because—you know), but ‘my emotions got the best of me.’”
Bishkin also added that Casebolt’s actions at the pool party were not representative of his entire career. It’s another defense that would never be allowed to fly when it comes to Black suspects.
“How many young people who are basically good kids might do something stupid when around friends, in the excitement of the moment,” another reader, Jessie Norris, questioned. “Does the justice system cut them some slack because that action isn’t ‘representative’ of who they really are?”
That question has already been answered time and time again.
Recall the case of Martese Johnson, the University of Virginia student who had his face slammed into the pavement after he tried to use a fake ID to enter a bar with his friends. In addition to having a spotless record, Johnson had an extensive past as an active leader in his community in Chicago. Regardless of this positive past, Johnson was left with a gash across his face as images of his bloody encounter with authorities went viral on the web.
Casebolt has since resigned from his position as a police officer but reports indicate that some of the families of the teens at the party may come forward with their own cases against the officer.