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Activists Question McKinney Officer Resignation, Want Criminal Charges

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MCKINNEY (CBSDFW.COM) - Local, state and national activists gathered in McKinney Wednesday afternoon to question why the former police officer under investigation for his actions at a community pool party was allowed to resign.

Communicating through his lawyer, Corporal Eric Casebolt stepped down from the McKinney Police Department Tuesday. He had been on paid administrative leave since cell phone video of him violently restraining a 15-year-old girl, and drawing his weapon on unarmed teens went viral.

A resignation will leave no "marks" on Casebolt's Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) file. There would only be notations if he were disciplined or fired from a department.

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At the press conference Minister Dominique Alexander, president of the Next Generation Action Network, said, "We know yesterday Officer Eric Casebolt resigned. We met with the Chief of Police on Monday and we strongly asked the Chief of Police to terminate, to terminate, Officer Eric Casbolt. But he allowed Officer Eric Casebolt to resign, keep his benefits, go with his dignity, [and] he could be in someone else's police department tomorrow."

Saying that McKinney Police Chief Greg Conley, during a meeting, admitted he hadn't spoke with Dajerria Becton, the 15-year-old bikini-clad girl thrown to the ground and pinned with a knee in her back, Alexander said he and others don't believe the investigation is being done properly or fairly.

"Yesterday we were able to accomplice all charges being dropped against Mr. Adrian Martin, but there are still some key facts that need to be done in this case. And we are not going to be stopped or silenced until Officer Casebolt is charged for what he did."

Casebolt pulled his weapon on Martin, 18, and later arrested him for Interfering with Public Duties and Evading Arrest. Reflecting on the incident after his release, Martin said, "I was thinking, 'This is it. I'm going to get shot.'"

Again, the ages of the individuals involved was brought up. Alexander said the incident has taken a toll. "This family and these young people have been broken by the actions… and how the media has put them in a way of making them feel like they were thugs. These children had rights to be on this property and their civil rights were violated."

Arthur Fleming, the president of the Dallas branch of the NAACP, said, "We're hoping that the officer, Mr. Casebolt, we're hoping that he will be charged and that justice will come to this family. I spoke to Miss Becton and she doesn't want nothing less than this officer being charged."

Becton's attorney, Hannah Stroud, addressed the media later that afternoon.

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Video of Casebolt putting one black teen in handcuffs and arresting him, drawing and pointing his gun at others, and throwing the young black girl to the ground sparked worldwide conversation. Activists in McKinney compared the city to Baltimore, South Carolina and Ferguson, Missouri, where use of force by police triggered widespread protests and violence.

National Bar Association (NBA) president Pamela Meanes said, "The reason we showed up here is, America has been talking about how 'horrible' these teens were… those 'horrible teens that scaled the wall. They weren't supposed to have people there.' When I was growing up I wasn't a perfect child. I did some things I probably wasn't proud of, but I'm a lawyer today because the system I grew up in had some grace and it had some mercy. The first thought wasn't to send me to the detention center, it was to send me to the principal's office."

Meanes said the incident seen around the world should spark nationwide reforms. "We came here today saying McKinney's not a moment.  This is a movement." The crowd cheered as she called for changes in federal law.

Meanes sent a letter to McKinney city leaders asking them to make specific changes to local laws. "Mandatory de-escalation of force training.  Pass a law that has stricter mental health testing.  Pass a law that has mandatory race relations training," she said.

A spokesperson for the city says the mayor has received the letter and is considering the proposals but would not comment on the specific recommendations.  Collette Flanagan with Mothers Against Police Brutality says it's critical that police adopt system-wide changes.

As to whether the concern should be if the officer's actions were racially motivated, Meanes said, "This issue is not a black and white issue. We want to make it very clear to you the color is blue… race just makes it worse."

Several people have filed complaints against Casebolt that could result in him facing criminal charges. The NAACP has also asked the U.S. Department of Justice to get involved. Some of the protestors are also calling for an independent prosecutor to be named to investigate the pool party incident.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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