Officer involved has been assigned administrative duties pending the outcome of an investigation
Sandra Bland was arrested after allegedly assaulting an officer during a July 10 traffic stop
Police say she hanged herself in a jail cell, but friends and family express doubt
The Texas trooper who stopped Sandra Bland for allegedly failing to use her signal while changing lanes threatened her with a Taser and said: “I will light you up!”
Authorities on Tuesday released dashcam video of the July 10 traffic stop revealing new details about a case that has captured national attention.
Bland, 28, was found dead inside a cell at the Waller County Jail three days later. Police say she killed herself; her family and others have questioned that account.
‘For a failure to signal?’
The video begins with what appears to be a fairly routine traffic stop in Prairie View. It turns combative after the trooper, identified as Brian Encinia, asks Bland to put out her cigarette.
She states that she is in her car, and asks why she has to put out her cigarette.
“Well, you can step on out now,” Encinia replies.
Bland says that she doesn’t have to step out of the car, and the officer tells her to do so – several more times. He then opens Bland’s door.
“Step out, or I will remove you,” Encinia says. “I’m going to yank you out of here.”
Encinia reaches into the car.
“Don’t touch me,” Bland says.
He tells her she is under arrest; she repeatedly asks why.
They argue, before Encinia pulls what appears to be his Taser and points it at Bland.
He screams: “Get out of the car! I will light you up! Get out! Now!”
Bland then exits the car of her own accord, saying: “Wow, really, for a failure to signal? You’re doing all of this for a failure to signal?”
Much of what happens next is not seen on camera, but the officer can be heard saying that Bland is not compliant.
“When you pull away from me, you’re resisting arrest,” says Encinia.
A clearly upset Bland can be heard saying: “You’re a real man now. You just slammed me, knocked my head in the ground. I got epilepsy you mother******.”
“Good,” he replies.
A female officer tells Bland she should have thought about that before she started resisting.
Official: Trooper violated procedure
CNN affiliate KPRC reported Encinia’s version of the traffic stop, as told in his arrest warrant. Bland was accused of assaulting the trooper.
The officer wrote that Bland became “combative and uncooperative,” and that she was placed in handcuffs “for officer safety.”
“Bland began swinging her elbows at me and then kicked my right leg in the shin. I had a pain in my right leg and suffered small cuts on my right hand. Force was used to subdue Bland to the ground to which Bland continued to fight back,” said Encinia.
Waller County paramedics were called to the scene of her arrest, but Bland refused a medical evaluation before she was booked, according to the public safety department.
Encinia has been assigned administrative duties pending the outcome of an investigation.
“We have certain procedures in place, and he did not comply with those procedures,” Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steve McCraw told reporters.
“A DPS state trooper has an obligation to exhibit professionalism and be courteous throughout the entire contact, and that wasn’t the case in this situation,” he said.
Murder or suicide?
On Monday, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said the investigation into Bland’s death is being treated like a murder investigation. He sought to clarify that remark Tuesday.
“It has not been determined at this point that this was a murder. This investigation is being conducted as a murder investigation would,” he said. “Whatever the ultimate determination may be, whether that’s a suicide or a homicide, that will ultimately be decided by a grand jury.”
The Texas Rangers and the FBI are investigating Bland’s death.
According to a sheriff’s office statement, she was found “in her cell not breathing from what appears to be self-inflicted asphyxiation.” Bland received CPR, and an ambulance was called, but she was pronounced dead a short time later.
There were no cameras inside her cell but cameras in the hallway showed no one entering or leaving before her body was discovered.
Bland lived 1,000 miles away in the Chicago suburb of Naperville, Illinois, but was in Texas because she was taking a job as a student ambassador to the alumni association at Prairie View A&M University. She graduated from the historically black school in 2009.