When 26-year-old Councilman Jonathan Miller of Prairie View, Texas heard police officers questioning his neighbors, he naturally came to their defense. Now, the officers involved are being forced to defend their decision to use a stun gun on the City Council member, who they allege was too slow at responding to their commands, according to the Associated Press.
The incident between the Councilman and police was well documented, as is becoming increasingly common. A body-cam video was recorded and has been released to the public. Another video, shot by a bystander, was sent to Good Morning America over the weekend. Yesterday, a press conference was held in which Police Chief Larry Johnson told the media that the video and all other evidence are now in the possession of the Waller County district attorney.
Prairie View, located just outside of Houston, is also the city where the high-profile case of Sandra Bland took place. Bland allegedly hung herself on July 13 at Waller County Jail after a minor traffic stop resulted her being detained without bail for four days. In Thursday’s case, both the officer who used force and the victim were both black. A female officer who can be heard criticizing Miller for not following orders had been one of the officers involved in transporting Sandra Bland.
The story being told by law enforcement is that the officers were routinely patrolling the neighborhood, which has been known to be the home to drug businesses in the past, when they became suspicious of four men. According to the Houston Chronicle, Miller’s neighbors “gathered to practice a dance routine for a homecoming event, and were in the vehicle to change clothes.”
In the videos, Miller can be shown on his knees before being tased in the back. Officers told him to leave his front yard before attempting to arrest him. Believing he did nothing wrong, in addition to being a city councilor, Miller refused.
“I knew the officer, she knew me, so I figured if I let her know these are my guests, (it would) kind of lessen the tension,” Miller told NBC News.
Instead, he was tased and charged with resisting arrest.
During the press conference, police stood by their officers actions, but said that they will be reviewing the department-wide use-of-force policy, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Tasers, while less lethal than firearms, have still been involved in the deaths of 44 people in police confrontations since January, according to the Counted.
According to his official bio on the Prairie View government website, Miller attended Prairie View A&M University, graduating last May. He is the youngest member of the council and “proudly expects to be a voice for change and transparency; to serve as a leader representing his constituents.”
The agenda of a Special Meeting of the Prairie View City Council on August 24 reveals that the local Police Department requested body cameras. According to 2010 Census data, the population of the city was 5,576, with 93.51% of all residents identifying as African American.
The Waller County District Attorney will decide this week if the charges against Miller will stand.
Source: Associated Press