An attorney representing former McKinney, Texas, police Cpl. Eric Casebolt says the officer was not targeting minorities and was in an emotional state even before he responded to a call about a disturbance at a pool party.
"His first call was a suicide at an apartment complex," said attorney Jane Bishkin, who is representing Casebolt on behalf of the Fraternal Order of Police. Casebolt resigned Tuesday.
Bishkin says that in answering that call to an apartment complex Friday, Casebolt and other officers were confronted with the scene of a man who had shot himself in the head near a pool, in view of the man's family.
That call was followed by another suicide call, the attorney said. In that incident, a teenage girl was threatening to jump off a structure. The girl was eventually persuaded to step away to safety.
"Eric's compassion during these two incidents are a testament to his character," Bishkin said.
But she added that they "took an emotional toll on Eric Casebolt."
After days of both criticism and support, Casebolt resigned his post Tuesday.
The details provided by Bishkin add another prism through which to view Casebolt's actions last Friday, when he was recorded on video shouting orders, using profanities — and then kneeling on a teenage girl. He also briefly unholstered his pistol, in an incident that has fed debate over race relations in McKinney and the police's use of force.
"He does recognize that his emotions got the best of him," Bishkin said at a news conference Wednesday. "The prior suicide calls put him in an emotional place that he would have preferred not to have been in."
Bishkin said that when the initial call about a disturbance of the peace at a pool party went out over the police radio, Casebolt was reluctant to respond. But when the call was escalated, she said, the officer felt obligated to rush to the scene.
Several witnesses at that party have said they felt Casebolt focused on the black teenagers who were present. According to Bishkin, the officer was only attempting to investigate a possible crime.
"Those who fled were possible suspects — he was not targeting minorities," she said.
The attorney said that Casebolt's efforts were frustrated by teens who told others not to help the police.
"He never intended to mistreat anyone," Bishkin said of Casebolt.
"He apologizes to all who were offended," she said, adding "That day was not representative of the career."