A Texas teen who was slammed to the ground and pinned down by a McKinney police officer during a pool party in June 2015 has now filed a federal suit against the now former cop, the city and the police department, the Dallas Morning News reports.
According to the report, Deajerria Becton and her legal guardian Shashona Becton filed a complaint last month claiming that former Cpl. Eric Casebolt violated the teen’s constitutional rights through use of excessive force and holding her without probable cause. The family is also saying that the city and the police department are responsible for her injuries for not training officers properly.
Dajerria is seeking $5 million in damages, including mental anguish, loss of quality of life and attorney’s fees plus interest. The teen is also requesting punitive damages, not in the form of compensation but a penalty for Casebolt.
Casebolt faced national criticism after video of the incident emerged, showing the then-15-year-old Dajerria crying as she lay face down, pinned beneath Casebolt’s hands and knees. Casebolt also pulled his gun on two other youths who came running to help the girl.
Last year, a Collin County grand jury ruled that there was not enough evidence to press criminal charges against Casebolt.
According to the Morning News, in a statement city officials spoke out against the girl’s claims against the city and its police force.
“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.”
McKinney and Craig Ranch, the upscale neighborhood where the incident occurred, was thrust into the spotlight and the nationwide debate about police treatment of minorities, particularly black youth, after officers responded to a disturbance at a private pool. Neighbors called to complain about teens jumping a fence to get to the pool after a party apparently got out of control.
In the complaint, Dajerria said that she had been incited to the pool party by a resident and was leaving, as Casebolt had asked, when he attacked her.
The teen described how Casebolt approached her with his baton raised, grabbing her by the wrist and dragging her to the ground and pulling her by her hair as he slammed her face into the grass. She said that Casebolt pinned her down with one knee on her back and one on her neck and repeatedly grabbed the back of her head to force her face down, staying on top of her for several minutes. Casebolt, she said, handcuffed her even though she was obeying his orders.
“The entire time D.B. she could do nothing [but] cry out in pain and repeatedly beg for her ‘Momma’ as she endured the pain inflicted upon her by Defendant Casebolt’s physical assault,” the lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit claims that Casebolt’s use of excessive force caused physical injuries, as well as psychological distress that continues up to this day, a year and a half later.
“There exists a practice of excessive force incidents that result from the training or lack thereof, received by MPD officers,” the lawsuit reads. “Upon information and belief, MPD officers are trained by individuals with little or no experience working in the field.”
Last June, Dajerria’s lawyer offered to attempted to make a deal with the city, offering to cooperate an investigation and avoid a lawsuit, if McKinney paid Dajerria $2.5 million. As part of the deal, Dajerria’s family requested that all McKinney officers be trained in use of excessive force, racial sensitivity and the handling of minors. However, the city didn’t take the deal.
Read more at the Dallas Morning News.