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Teen pinned down at Texas pool party sues police officer, city for $5 million

January 4, 2017

A Texas teenager who was shown being pinned to the ground by a police officer in a video that went viral last summer has filed a $5 million suit against the officer, along with the city of McKinney, Texas and its police department.

The Dallas Morning News reports that Dajerria Becton and her legal guardian, Shashona Becton, claim former Cpl. Eric Casebolt used excessive force on the girl and held her without probable cause, thereby violating her constitutional rights. The Bectons also assert that the city and police department of McKinney are to blame for the incident, because they do not give their officers sufficient training in racial sensitivity and handling juveniles.

Dajerria was 15 years old in June of 2015, when she attended a private pool party that became rowdy. Neighbors called the police and several officers, including Eric Casebolt, arrived on the scene. A video posted to YouTube showed Casebolt slamming Dajerria to the ground and pinning her onto the grass. He also unholstered his gun and pointed it at a group of teenagers.

The video became one of the focal points of a heated national debate about police brutality against minorities. Casebolt is white. Most of the teenagers who were present at the party, including Dajerria, are black.

Casebolt resigned shortly after the incident. Last year, a grand jury chose not to indict him on criminal charges.

Prior to filing the suit, Dajerria’s attorney reportedly offered to negotiate a settlement with the city, which chose not to take the deal.

In a complaint filed last month, Dajerria said she was leaving the party when Casebolt approached her with his baton raised, grabbed her by the wrist, pulled her hair, and threw her onto the grass. She said she was handcuffed even though she was complying with his demands. Dajerria is seeking damages for mental anguish, loss of quality of life, and attorney’s fees, along with punitive damages as punishment for the defendant.

City officials refuted Dajerria’s claims in a prepared statement. “The City of McKinney denies the claims alleged against it and the McKinney Police Department, and as such, will vigorously defend the recently filed lawsuit,” the statement reads. “McKinney prides itself in cultivating the highest standards of training and professionalism for our officers, and it strongly believes that its standards and training will withstand legal challenge.”

Read the full story at the Dallas Morning News.