Prosecutors investigate use of Taser on councilman in city where Sandra Bland died
A Texas district attorney said on Monday his office was investigating the use of a Taser on a city councilman in Prairie View, the city where a black woman died in custody in a case that raised questions about racial bias in policing.
One of the officers involved in the incident was also present during the arrest of Sandra Bland, who was found hanged in her cell on July 13, three days after she was taken into custody following a minor traffic infraction in Waller County, about 50 miles northwest of Houston.
The Waller County district attorney is looking at the incident that took place last week and was captured on video where a police officer deployed a Taser on Councilman Jonathan Miller, who is black.
In the cellphone video, officers responding to a disturbance last Thursday night are seen asking Miller numerous times to place his hands behind his back. A Taser is then used on Miller, who is on his knees, and he falls face first to the ground.
Prairie View police said last week that Miller was interfering with an investigation and refused commands to stop.
Miller said he did not do anything wrong and believes police overstepped their bounds.
“I did not understand how or why I was interfering,” he told NBC News.
Prairie View Police Chief Larry Johnson told a news conference on Monday that police videos from body and dashboard cameras would soon be released and there would be a thorough investigation.
The incident occurred outside of Miller’s home. Police were questioning friends of Miller, when he came out to see what was going on.
Bland, a 28-year-old African-American, was pulled over in her car on July 10 by a white state trooper, Brian Encinia, for failing to signal a lane change in Prairie View. A confrontation followed between her and the trooper, leading to her arrest.
The discovery of Bland’s body in her cell three days later with a trash bag around her neck in an apparent hanging provoked suspicions of racist treatment.
Local officials have said she was not mistreated in jail. Encinia was not involved in the incident with Miller.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Peter Cooney)