Dashcam video of the arrest of Sandra Bland, a woman who was found hanged in her jail cell, is raising even more questions about not only her death, but why Bland was arrested and brought to jail in the first place.
As we have reported, Bland’s death prompted an investigation launched by multiple agencies including the Waller County District Attorney’s Office, The Texas Ranger Division of the state’s Department of Safety and the FBI. Bland was found hanged in a cell at Waller County Jail July 12, where she had been held for three days after an arrest stemming from a traffic stop.
In the dash-cam video, Bland is reportedly pulled over for failing to signal her lane change. Bland is clearly aggravated when she is first pulled over. After the officer begins asking her questions about what is wrong, Bland argues with the officer. She also tells the officer that she is not required to say anything to him other than to identify herself. It should be noted that Bland was correct and that she had no legal obligation to speak to the officer other than to identify herself.
The officer then tells Bland to put out her cigarette, which she refuses to do. Again, Bland is correct when she says that she is in her own vehicle and there is no legal requirement for her to put out the cigarette. But this doesn’t stop the officer from opening her door and demanding Bland exit the vehicle. At one point he holds his taser at her yelling, “I will light you up if you don’t get out of the car.”
Multiple news agencies, including several local news stations and larger outlets such as NBC, CBS, The Guardian, Time, The Los Angeles Times and CNN, have pointed to several inconsistencies and anomalies within the video, posing the question of whether or not the video released by the Texas Department of Public Safety was edited.
Independent journalist Ben Norton provided several separate clips that appear to show disparities. In one of the clips, “a man leaves the truck in the center of the frame at 25:05. For the next 15 seconds, he walks toward the right of the frame and leaves. At 25:19, he suddenly appears again, promptly disappears, then returns at 25:22. The same footage of him walking is subsequently repeated”:
Norton offered another clip seen below. “This is 33:02-33:12 in the footage released by the Texas Department of Public Safety. A white car enters the frame and disappears twice, returning a third time,” Norton wrote.
“It appears that someone cut footage out and looped part of the video in order to correspond with the recorded audio of Texas state trooper Brian Encinia speaking,” Norton wrote.
The Texas Department Of Safety denied that any editing took place. The video inconsistencies were “glitches in the recording” that “occurred when it was uploaded for public viewing,” according to DPS spokesman Tom Vinger.
Already in admitting wrongdoing, the Waller County Sheriff’s Department has acknowledged that traffic stop procedures and courtesy policies were violated. The officer in this video, identified as Brian Encinia, has been assigned to desk duty.
While Bland’s death was originally ruled as a suicide, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said that the inquiry “is being treated like a murder investigation.” Mathis noted, however, that “It is very much too early to make any kind of determination that this was a suicide or a murder because the investigations are not complete.”
Annabelle Bamforth contributed to this report.