Notes on police violence in America
By Tom Hall
10 June 2015
Hundreds of people demonstrated in McKinney, Texas on Monday to denounce the terrorizing of teens at a pool party late last week. Protesters demanded that the officer involved be fired and charged with assault.
McKinney police announced over the weekend that police corporal Eric Casebolt has been placed on administrative leave after a bystander videosurfaced on YouTube of Casebolt attacking a group of high school students at the party in a well-to-do subdivision Friday afternoon.
Residents at the Craig Ranch subdivision, about 40 miles north of Dallas, called the police on the party, which was held at the community’s pool, apparently violating its strict two-guest policy, although most of the teens were from the area. Partygoers claim the call to police was racially motivated.
“[A white woman] was saying racial slurs to some friends that came to the cookout,” Tatiana Rhodes, the black teenager who hosted the party said. “She was saying such things as ‘black effer’ and ‘that’s why you live in Section 8 homes.’” The teen said that she was later attacked by the woman and one of her friends. A video uploaded to Twitter shows a physical altercation between a black teen and two older white women.
McKinney Police dispatched twelve officers, including Casebolt, to clear out the party. In the seven-minute-long video, Casebolt runs frantically around the scene, shouting, cursing, pushing teenagers to the ground and chasing others down with his baton. At one point in the video Casebolt pulls his gun and advances on a group of clearly unarmed teenagers rushing to the aid of a girl whom he had just pinned to the ground (while shouting “on your face!”) for no discernible reason. Though the crowd was of mixed racial composition, Casebolt appeared to be singling out black teenagers for rough treatment.
McKinney Mayor Brian Loughmiller made a show of remorse in a written statement, declaring “I am disturbed and concerned by the incident and actions depicted in the video.” However, there is no indication thus far that any disciplinary action, much less criminal charges, will be taken against Casebolt. The cop has been placed on administrative leave, with pay.
“He told me to walk away and I did. Next thing I know I’m on the ground,” Dajerria Becton, the girl who was pinned to the ground in the video, told a local TV station. “Him getting fired isn’t enough.”
Riot police tear gas concertgoers in New York-area stadium
New Jersey state riot police deployed tear gas against a crowd at the Hot 97 Summer Jam concert at sold-out MetLife Stadium, the 82,000-seat facility that is also the home of the New York Giants and Jets football teams.
Police claim revelers attempted to force their way into the venue and began throwing debris at police. Riot police responded with overwhelming force, firing tear gas canisters and deploying pepper spray against the crowd of approximately 1,000. An armored vehicle also blasted a sound cannon at the crowd. Sixty-one people were ultimately arrested.
Concertgoers allege that the incident began when valid ticketholders were turned away at the gates, which had been closed by police. The gates were briefly opened again to allow ticketholders through but “they were closed again when non-ticketholders attempted to push their way in,” the police said. Many then responded by attempting to scale the gate’s iron fence; those who were caught by police were charged with trespassing.
“Apparently a fight happened inside, so they stopped letting people inside,” a witness told the press. “I never experienced anything like that—I thought somebody might’ve had a gun.”
“Our troopers took the appropriate steps to restore order to what was a brief and volatile situation,” state police superintendent Rick Fuentes said in a statement. The New Jersey ACLU has called for an investigation into the police response.
24-year-old cyclist run over by Delaware police during chase
Police in Chester County, Delaware struck and killed 24-year-old Sherman Byrd, a North Carolina man visiting with family, with their vehicle during a chase after Byrd attempted to flee on his bicycle.
Police attempted to stop Byrd at around 8:35 PM last Wednesday because he fit the description (“a young black male with facial hair wearing camouflage pants and a black hoodie”) of an armed robbery suspect who had just stolen a cellphone and cash from a woman nearby. When Byrd attempted to flee, police chased after him for several blocks before Byrd was struck by a squad car. “It looks like he fell off the bike during the pursuit and was run over. There was no damage to the bike,” Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan told the press.
“We can’t confirm whether [Byrd] is the person who committed the robbery,” Whelan told reporters. “We are in the process of attempting to confirm whether he committed the robbery. However, our evidence indicates he possessed a weapon that led to the pursuit by the deputy sheriffs and Chester police.” Police claim they saw that Byrd had a gun, which they claim he threw in a nearby field. It was not clear from news reports whether police had recovered a weapon from the scene at all.
Byrd’s family has angrily denounced the police version of events. They say that Byrd, a Delaware native who moved to North Carolina, was in town for his sister’s graduation and had left a family gathering just fifteen minutes before the chase. “He [had] been in the city for eight days,” his mother Charlota told the press. “We live in North Carolina and I moved for a reason, because of crime. He comes back to see his daughter and watch his sister graduate and now he’s dead, not fair.”
Byrd’s father and another relative were barred by police from seeing Byrd at the hospital; police allege that they then started attacking a police officer. They have since been charged with assault.
Findlay, Ohio police officer shoots man in “scuffle” during routine traffic stop
A police officer in Findlay, Ohio shot and killed 30-year-old Jeremy Linhart, Jr. during a routine traffic stop at Tuesday morning, after an alleged “scuffle.” The officer’s identity has not yet been revealed by the Findlay Police Department.
At 3:00 AM, the officer pulled over Linhart’s car and ordered both Linhart and a passenger out of the vehicle. According to Findlay Police, a “scuffle” then ensued as the passenger attempted to get back into the car, during which the officer shot Linhart. Police claim that they recovered a handgun from the glove compartment of the vehicle. Linhart was declared dead at the hospital and hour later. The officer has been placed on paid leave pending an investigation.
Linhart’s family was skeptical of the idea that Linhart was going for a gun. “He has his problems but guns haven’t been one of them,” his uncle, Mike Linhart, told the press.
Cleveland police officer acquitted in 2012 shooting now charged with assaulting his brother
Michael Brelo, the Cleveland police officer who was acquitted barely three weeks ago for his role in a 2012 shooting that left two people dead, is now facing charges for assaulting his twin brother in his Bay Village home.
On May 23, Brelo was found not guilty, in a nonjury trial, of two counts of voluntary manslaughter in the deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, after a 20-mile car chase involving 62 police vehicles and more than a third of the entire Cleveland police force on duty at the time. The chase ended in a hail of bullets when at least 13 officers emptied at least 137 rounds into the car. Brelo himself unloaded two full clips and then, using his “Marine training,” stepped onto the hood of the car and fired a further 15 rounds through the windshield at point-blank range. Despite this, the presiding judge absurdly declared in his ruling that “The state did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant Michael Brelo knowingly caused the deaths” of the victims.
On May 27, four days after his acquittal, Brelo assaulted his brother Mark, leaving “visible injuries,” according to court documents, after the pair spent the night drinking. Mark then staggered shirtless to a neighbor’s house and asked them to call the police. Mark Brelo also faces a disorderly conduct charge.