Police officer indicted for using Taser on Texas city councilman

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 25, 2016 5:21 PM

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A police officer has been indicted on a misdemeanor charge for using a Taser on a councilman in Prairie View, the city where a black woman died in custody in a case that raised questions about racial bias in policing, authorities said on Monday.

Michael Kelley, an officer in Prairie View, was indicted by a grand jury last week on a charge of official oppression, which can bring up to a year in prison, the Waller County District Attorney's Office said.

In the cellphone video, officers responding to a disturbance in October could be seen asking Councilman Jonathan Miller, who is black, 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.

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 incident with the Taser occurred outside of Miller's home. Police were questioning friends of Miller, when he came out to see what was going on, police said.

Bland, 28, was pulled over in her car on July 10 by 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.

Encinia was indicted by a grand jury in Waller County in January and then fired from his job at the Texas Department of Public Safety for misconduct in the incident.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; editing by Grant McCool)