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A Cop Involved in Sandra Bland's Arrest Says Officials Tried to Shut Him Up

The development comes three days after Bland's mother addressed the Democratic National Convention.

by Allie Conti
Jul 29 2016, 4:40pm

Photo via Flickr user Patrick Feller

Almost exactly a year after Sandra Bland was found hanging in a jail cell in Texas, a Prairie View police officer has come forward with new accusations against the officer who arrested her, ABC News reports.

Prairie View officer Michael Kelley says that county officials told him to keep quiet and threatened him from originally coming forward with information about injuries Bland reportedly suffered during her detainment, as well as negligence on behalf of State Trooper Brian Encinia, the the man who pulled her over.

He alleges Encinia had to call a supervisor to ask what he could charge Bland with, and that she had marks on her forehead after she was brought to jail. Kelley also said that the police report Encinia filed omitted important details, and that county prosecutors tried to shut him up and told him he would be punished for speaking to Bland's family attorney.

This new development, however, is tricky to parse. The officer levying the accusations was himself suspended from the Prairie View department after tasering a black city councilman on video. For their part, the Waller County District Attorney's Office has issued a statement saying that Kelley is just looking for attention.

Bland was in Texas for a job interview when she was pulled over for failing to signal when switching lanes. Her interaction with Encinia was caught on video and sparked outrage after she was found hanging in her cell three days later. Although five other women of color died in American jails that same month, the 28-year-old's death became a topic of intense public scrutiny and sparked the hashtag #WhatHappenedToSandraBland.

Although Bland disclosed that she had a history of mental health issues, her jailers did not properly screen her. No officer has been indicted in regards to Bland's death, although State Trooper Encinia was indicted for perjury and ultimately fired. A Texas prosecutor ruled her death a suicide.

On Tuesday night, Bland's mother addressed the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia as part of the Mothers of the Movement, a group consisting of women whose children were killed in encounters with the police and whose deaths spurred the Black Lives Matter movement.

"One year ago yesterday I lived the worst nightmare anybody could imagine," Geneva Reed-Veal told the DNC crowd Tuesday night. "I watched as my daughter––Sandra Bland––was lowered into the ground in a coffin. She was my fourth of five daughters, and she was gone. Not on administrative leave, but on permanent leave from this Earth."

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Read: How Many People Die in Police Custody in America?