US teen who filmed pool fracas says racism played role

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CHICAGO: The teenager whose cellphone video of a melee at a Texas pool party was seen around the world, told US media he believes racism was a factor in the heavyhanded police response. Brandon Brooks, 15, who is white, was at the party with several black friends who he said were treated more harshly by police trying to restore order. “When I was standing there filming, all my friends around me – my black friends, African-American friends – they were all getting put on the ground and having to stay there and they hadn’t done anything at all but just stand there,” the boy told CNN on Wednesday. “They were innocent bystanders who were placed on the ground for no reason. The cop kind of skipped over me for standing there. I was doing the same thing as them,” he said. News reports said the video Brooks shot of the chaos after fighting broke out Friday at a private community pool in McKinney, Texas has been seen nearly 11 million times. It showed a Texas police officer pulling a gun out at a teen pool party, and appearing to manhandle a bikini-clad African American girl as she screams for her companions to call her mother. He is seen throwing her to the ground and pinning her down by placing his knees on her back. The footage, which has been posted on YouTube, also showed the officer, Eric Casebolt – who is white – shouting obscenities at the black teenagers as he orders them to lie on the ground. He pulls out his gun when two young black men approached the distraught girl, apparently trying to help her. Brooks said he kept recording the fracas even after the officer removed his service revolver from his holster. “I continued filming after he pulled his gun out because the gun wasn’t in my direction,” he told CNN. “I, personally, think he was going to shoot one of those kids,” the 15-year old continued. “You could see in the video, two cops pulled him back and checked him to give him a heads up like, ‘hey, calm down’.” Casebolt resigned on Tuesday, but civil rights groups and advocates speaking on behalf of the teens called for a more robust official response to the incident. “Given the nature of the situation and given his actions, I think that step two would be to look to criminal charges and the possibility of pursuing those,” said Emmanuel Obi, an attorney representing Tatyana Rhodes, the teenager reported to have organized the pool party. McKinney Police Chief Greg Conley admitted on Tuesday that Casebolt appeared to be “out of control” as he arrived on the scene. He was one of about a dozen officers who had been sent to the community center Friday amid reports of a “disturbance” at the pool. The conflict began after a group of uninvited youngsters showed up at the pool party and then refused to leave, police said. The incident comes at a time of heightened racial tensions following a series of incidents involving sometimes lethal police force in black communities. The US Justice Department has launched investigations into possible civil rights violations by police in a number of the recent cases. -AFP

Source : NEW STRAITS TIMES

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