Texas police officer Michael Kelley has claimed prosecutors on the Sandra Bland case threatened his career if he brought forth evidence of wrongdoing. Kelley, from Prairie View, said he saw “marks on her forehead after a confrontation with state trooper Brian Encinia.” The AP reported:

Kelley said he was never contacted by special prosecutors handling the case, and the Waller County district attorney’s top assistant said there would be repercussions if he spoke to a Bland family attorney. Prosecutors have strongly denied Kelley’s allegations.

Bland was found dead three days after the traffic stop in a county jail cell; authorities ruled it a suicide. But her death galvanized the national Black Lives Matter movement and others protesting recent police misconduct, all of whom said she was mistreated and shouldn’t have been arrested. Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, appeared on stage at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday with other black women whose children had died in encounters with law enforcement.

Encinia pulled over Bland “for allegedly failing to signal while changing a lane.”

Kelley told The Associated Press that the special prosecutors never contacted him about his claims. Then the Waller County district attorney’s top assistant told Kelley “there would be repercussions if he spoke to a Bland family attorney.”

Prosecutors deny the accusations, but Kelley stands by his words:

“I didn’t become a cop to become shady like a lot of officers,” Kelley told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “I became a cop to do justice and to try to change the community which I work in.”

The video from the stop shows Encinia reaching into the car to get Bland out after she refused to leave it. They struggled before he put her in handcuffs and called for backup. Kelley was one of the officers who arrived on the scene:

By the time Kelley arrived on the scene of what began as a traffic stop, he said that Bland was already handcuffed in the back of a squad car. He said he overheard Encinia, who had turned off his own body camera, admitting that he didn’t know what charge to lodge against Bland, but declaring that he’d come up with something. That’s one key part of Kelley’s incident report that he claims has been removed.

“My opinion is that he messed up,” Kelley told HuffPost. “He did not have probable cause to detain her after he pulled her out of the car.”

Another detail missing from the incident report, the officer said, is his observation that it looked like Bland had been struck in the head.

“She had a large mark on her head. Maybe she fell when she was in handcuffs. Maybe she got kicked,” Kelley told HuffPost. She complained about head pain but didn’t cooperate with emergency medical workers, he said.

However, prosecutors said they do not trust Kelley since he has own investigation of wrongdoing. A video shows Kelley “using a Taser on a black city councilman in Prairie View and being indicted for official oppression related to an unlawful arrest.” They also believe he wants to profit from the Bland case:

“I unequivocally state that he never approached me, my first assistant, or any member of my staff with any such information,” Mathis said, adding: “I can only imagine this is an attempt to divert attention” from Kelley’s case.

One of the prosecutors said Kelley never spoke to them:

Darrell Jordan, a Houston attorney who was one of five special prosecutors handling the Bland case when it went to a grand jury, also said Kelley never approached him or any other prosecutor.

“We walked the campus; we walked the main roads trying to talk to people,” Jordan said.


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