In June 2015, Dajerria Becton was forced to the ground by a McKinney police officer after residents complained that a pool party was getting out of control. The video of the officer with his knee in the teenager’s back quickly went viral and added to a national discussion of excessive force against people of color.
Becton is now filing a lawsuit against McKinney, the police department and former officer Eric Casebolt. She is seeking $5 million in damages.
The Dallas Morning News reports that Becton and her legal guardian, Shashona Becton, claim that Casebolt used excessive force while apprehending the then-15 year old and violated her constitutional rights by holding her without probable cause.
McKinney officials released a prepared statement defending the claims made by Becton.
“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.”
Before the current lawsuit was filed last month, Becton approached the city with a compromise. If Casebolt payed Becton $2.5 million, she and her attorney would cooperate with the investigation and avoid the current lawsuit for twice as much.
The city refused the offer and it was decided later that month that Casebolt wouldn’t be brought up on criminal charges, despite resigning from his position four days after the incident and his actions being described as “indefensible” by Police Chief Greg Conley.
According to the lawsuit, Becton’s family also recommends an upheaval of current training practices for officers, including excessive force, racial sensitivity and handling of juveniles.
“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.”