Everybody remember Sandra Bland? She was arrested in July in Texas for apparently refusing to put out a cigarette during a traffic stop in Texas. She was subsequently found hanged in a jail cell. Her death was ruled a suicide, but the case has prompted a federal investigation.
The stop and arrest took place in Prairie View, Texas, a small town with a population of 5,000. Yet just three months later, that small town is back in the news with another report of possible abusive police misconduct.
In this case the victim is actually a city council member in this small town and a group of his friends. A confrontation ultimately ended with the council member, Jonathan Miller, 29, being Tasered for "resisting arrest."
What makes this incident noteworthy—I don't want to say "strange" or "unusual" because these approaches most certainly happen with great frequency—is that there is no evidence that the police had any actual reason to roll up on these guys in the first place. Here's how KHOU in Houston, Texas, summarizes the incident, which was recorded by body cameras:
It started when Officer Goodie pulled up to question three of Miller's fraternity brothers, who had come out of his house to practice a step routine for Homecoming. They were standing by one of their cars changing their shoes when she arrived.
"There's been drug activity, little girls and little guys in the car doing whatever, so when we see this, we come investigate," Officer Goodie says on the tape.
Councilman Miller came out to ask what was happening to his friends.
"They were at my house," he said. "OK, I don't know that pulling up," Officer Goodie answered. "OK, that's fine, I'm not trying to be combative or anything," said Miller. "OK, I'm not either," replied Officer Goodie.
Then a second officer, Officer Kelley, tells Miller to step away.
"This is a scene, come on," said Kelley, reaching for Miller. "Officer, please do not put your hands on me," said Miller.
Kelley answers, "Go over there before you go to jail for interfering, go over there before you go to jail for interfering."
Though Miller wasn't doing anything but trying to talk to the police, Kelley suddenly decides he's going to arrest Miller after all. Now, on the KHOU report that ran Saturday, the police said at the time that Kelley and Miller "wrestled" and both ended up on the ground. But footage that Today showed this morning had Miller alone on his knees, passive at the point when he gets Tasered.
And note that Kelley calls this encounter a "scene" like a "crime scene," even though at no point is there any evidence presented that a crime even happened at all, let alone that these guys were involved or a legitimate suspect of any illegal behavior.
One of the officers involved was also directly involved with Bland's arrest, but officials note that the town only has six officers in the first place, so that sort of overlap is likely. Also overlapping is that the escalation of police force seemed to have occurred in both situations when the individual attempted to assert just a tiny bit of personal autonomy in the face of aggressive police behavior. Watch the incident below: