I am all over the place in my thoughts about the now-infamous video of the McKinney, Texas, pool party that went haywire.
Some are 100 percent certain that the white police officer was doing his job when he slammed a black, bikini-clad teenager to the ground and then pulled his gun on two other teens. Another group believes firmly that he was dead wrong and that it is yet another example of African-Americans being mistreated by white law enforcement officers.
There are shades of gray in this case.
According to media sources, a number of teenagers jumped a wall to go to a pool party at a neighborhood pool that had been arranged on social media. Two women near the party got into an exchange of harsh words about the pool party and its participants. A fight ensued.
Police were called, and then all heck broke out.
The video shows teenagers, mostly African American, milling around as a white officer yells at some of them and then starts making arrests. He is being pretty tough in his handling of the teens. It is very clear that he is selective in his enforcement.
A white teenager, who shot the video, told a reporter, “You can see in part of the video where he tells us to sit down, and he kinda like skips over me and tells all my African-American friends to go sit down.”
An African-American teenage girl, who it seems can’t stop talking and walking near the officer, after being told to leave, is finally grabbed by the officer and shoved to the ground, inciting most of the crowd. Two young men come over to where the officer had the girl face down. He responds by pulling his gun and pointing it at the boys as they run away.
Two other officers bolt toward the gun-toting officer, appearing to nudge him to reholster the weapon. Luckily, no one is shot.
Here’s my take. The officer was way over the top with his breathless commands ordering young people to the ground. He could have asked them to leave the site. Interestingly, there were some white men, who did not appear to be officers, moving about the teenagers.
The officers never appeared to tell them to leave. In fact, one put his legs around one of the teens to keep her there while the officer got up.
The lone officer could have waited for more officers to appear to help control the crowd, or ask them to disburse. The threat of going to jail could have been an inducement to leave.
However, the unwarranted macho show of force, especially by the screaming officer, only made the situation worse.
Now, about the officer drawing a gun. It was frightening to see him pointing the gun at the two teenage boys.
But with two youngsters coming toward him and partially out of his vision, I kind of get his apprehension about their intentions.
Even so, I side with a couple veteran officers interviewed by the media who said they probably would have just put a hand on their holstered gun.
A better action would have been for the police officers to arrive at the scene with the idea of being peace officers instead of arresting officers.
Tell the teenagers they should leave the premises in a reasonable amount of time because some of them may have needed transportation back to their homes.
If there were teenagers standing around long after they were told to leave, then the officers could implore them one more time. If they didn’t move, then the officers would have a decision on how to proceed.
But the teenagers had a responsibility, too. If officers are asking that you leave a site, then leave.
This confrontational attitude will never lead to good outcomes.
The officer in the video has resigned from the McKinney police force. Good. This was a situation that did not have to happen, but there was a lot of fault to go around, although I think the officer shouldered the most of it.
Luckily no one was injured or worse, and there was a video.
Edward Pratt, a former Advocate editor, is assistant to the chancellor for media relations at Southern University. His email address is email@example.com.