US & Canada

Texas pool party officer 'stressed not racist'

Protest in McKinney Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Tensions have run high in McKinney

The police officer filmed in a confrontation with black teenagers at a pool party in Texas was acting out of stress, not racism, says his lawyer.

Eric Casebolt resigned from the police force and his actions were described as "indefensible" by his former boss.

His lawyer, Jane Bishkin, told reporters on Wednesday he was not targeting minorities but he was over-emotional after a traumatic day.

Community leaders in McKinney want criminal charges brought against him.

The video showed the officer throwing a girl in a bikini to the ground, then pulling a gun on other bystanders.

At a press conference on Wednesday his lawyer, Jane Bishkin, said Mr Casebolt is aware that his emotions "got the better of him" during a difficult shift.

He and his family are now in hiding due to death threats.

Before arriving at the pool party Mr Casebolt had responded to a suicide call where a black man shot himself in the head in front of his wife and children.

The suicide occurred "poolside", said Ms Bishkin, and the officer took statements from the family, photographed the body and consoled the man's widow.

Next he responded to a second suicide call where a teenage girl was threatening to jump from the roof of her parents' home.

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Media captionThe video shows the police officer pinning down a teenager

"The nature of these two suicide calls took an emotional toll on Eric Casebolt," said Ms Bishkin, a lawyer for the Fraternal Order of Police.

When he was called to a community swimming pool after reports of a fight and anti-social behaviour, he was stressed, she said.

But he wasn't targeting minorities and he apologises to all who were offended, she added.

"He also detained a white female, who you do not see on the video," said Ms Bishkin.

At a news conference on Tuesday, McKinney police chief Greg Conley condemned Mr Casebolt's actions and said the other 11 officers who attended did an excellent job.

The girl at the centre of the incident, 14-year-old Dajerria Becton, told the Texan broadcaster KDFW: "Him getting fired isn't enough."

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