Police officer Eric Casebolt is seen pinning an African American teenager to the ground in this still from a YouTube video.

Credit: YouTube via NPR

Any Parent Could Tell You Exactly What Texas Police Officer Eric Casebolt Did Wrong

June 10, 2015

Eric Casebolt—a police officer in McKinney, Texas—was caught on video earlier this week chasing and waving his gun at a group of young African American teenagers at a pool party, including throwing a 14-year old girl in a bathing suit to the ground. On Tuesday, he resigned. 

Casebolt's big mistake, says homeland security expert Juliette Kayyem, could be recognized by any parent—that is, he didn't remain calm. 

"Police officers are trained—and I will defend them most of the time—to de-escalate," she said. "Think about it like parenting. You don't approach a child angry because you're just going to get worse."

What Kayyem saw in the video, she said, was that the situation deteriorated rapidly precisely because the officer did not approach it with his emotions in check.

"His job was to de-escalate a fight that was already occurring," she said. "What I saw is, he enters it, essentially, already hyperventilating. The fact that it escalated did not surprise me."

Kayyem points out that, as more police departments across the country adopt policies requiring officers to wear body cameras on duty, police training in the future will have to include being comfortable carrying out the job while being filmed. 

With enough of that training, she said, "the iPhone does not become a trigger for them to escalate. In other words, that they're not reacting to the fact they're being videotaped."

"It should be like air," she said.

To hear more from Juliette Kayyem, tune in to Boston Public Radio above, or listen to the latest episode of the Security Mom podcast here.

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