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McKinney Hits Home for Atlanta Teens

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Events in McKinney, Texas, have caused much uproar across the nation.

What started out as a call about a neighborhood disturbance on Friday, June 5, quickly turned into police brutality against 14-year-old Jahda Bakari, who was forced onto the ground in her two-piece bathing suit by McKinney police officer Eric Casebolt.

What some are calling unnecessary force, a video by 15-year-old Brandon Brooks who documented the incident has sparked yet another national debate on how law enforcement interacts with black citizens, in this case black teens. The McKinney Police Department media relations office told VOX by phone that Casebolt was placed on paid administrative leave pending an outcome of the investigation.

McKinney Chief of Police Greg Conley hosted a press conference on June 9, stating that Eric Casebolt resigned from his position on staff.

“I had 12 officers on scene, and 11 of them performed according to their training,” Conley said. “They did an excellent job.”

Jahda Bakari has also spoken out about this recently on CNN, when she visited the scene of the incident with CNN reporter Nick Valencia. Bakari was one of the teens at the pool party and the one seen being struck and pinned to the ground by Casebolt.

When asked by the reporter what she wanted, she said, “I honestly think that he should be fired.” She does not believe an apology is good enough after being struck in the arm and face while being forced to the ground. “Just cause you say ‘sorry,’ [that doesn’t mean] it could[n’t] still happen again.”

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Casebolt was one of the dozen officers who responded to the disturbance. The video distinctly shows Casebolt pulling out his firearm on teens after being forceful with Bakari. Casebolt’s attorney, Jane Bishkin, stated in a press conference, “With all that had happened that day, he let his emotions get the [best] of him.”

According to the Huffington Post, Jahi Bakari, Jahda’s father, agrees that “it’s not fair to blame the entire department, since some officers acted appropriately while responding to calls about the pool party.” VOX has contacted the Bakari family, but no one has responded.

VOX spoke to Dr. Cedric Alexander, chief of police for DeKalb County and the president of the National Organization for Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE).

“As young teens and adults, you’re growing up, you’re having fun, you’re becoming more responsible in life and you’re trying to finish high school and go on with your lives,” Alexander said. “One thing I want you all to be aware of as you grow up [is to] always be law-abiding and always be respectful.”

In relation to McKinney, he says, “If you ever have an altercation with the police where you feel you have been mistreated, you write down their name and badge number. It’s important not to get in arguments — that you just remain calm and be respectful.”

Dr. Alexander also added that teens should tell their parents when they’ve had a negative interaction with the police.

“Always be respectful of authority, and if you feel that you have been mistreated in some kind of way that you report it to your family and write down the name of that officer,” he said.

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