Tag Archives: Sandra Bland

Texas State Trooper Who Arrested Sandra Bland Indicted for Perjury

The Texas state trooper who arrested 28-year-old Sandra Bland during a routine traffic stop in July 2015 was indicted for perjury charges by a grand jury on Wednesday, and will be fired by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Trooper Brian Encinia was charged with perjury for lying about his confrontation with Bland when he pulled her over for allegedly changing lanes improperly on July 10, 2015. Three days after she was arrested by Encinia during the stop, Bland was found dead in her jail cell.

[RELATED: Law Enforcement, FBI Probing Prison Death of Woman Hanged in Jail Cell]

As previously reported, the questionable circumstances surrounding Bland’s death, which was initially ruled a suicide, prompted investigations by agencies such as the Waller County District Attorney’s Office, The Texas Ranger Division of the state’s DPS and the FBI.

Special prosecutor Shawn McDonald said Wednesday that “the indictment was issued in reference to the reasoning” that Encinia removed Bland from her car.

While Encinia’s affidavit claimed Bland was “combative and uncooperative,” and that he removed her “from her vehicle to further conduct a safer traffic investigation,” McDonald said grand jurors “found that statement to be false.”

The Texas DPS responded to the news of the indictment by pledging to “begin termination proceedings” against Encinia, who has been on “paid desk duty” for the last six months.

The perjury charge is classified as a “Class A misdemeanor” with a possible penalty of one year in jail and a $4,000 fine. The grand jury declined to indict any of the jailers in connection with Bland’s death, upholding the ruling that her death was a suicide.

In response, Bland’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit, claiming that the Waller County officials have “failed to keep them informed” about the progress of the case, and calling it a “sham of a process.”

[RELATED: Sandra Bland Dashcam Footage Appears Edited, Texas DPS Denies Manipulating Footage]

The dashcam video that was initially released by DPS appeared to show the confrontation between Bland and Encinia escalating when he told her to put out a cigarette, and she refused. He proceeded to open her car door, and at one point in the footage, he held out his Taser at her and said, “I will light you up if you don’t get out of this car.”

Following multiple accusations that the initial video was edited and manipulated, the original copy was pulled down and replaced with a video that was three minutes shorter. Texas DPS spokesman Tom Vinger claimed that the original video was not edited and insisted that uploading errors were to blame for any anomalies that appeared.

Texas DPS Replaces Original Dashcam Video Of Sandra Bland Arrest

The death of Sandra Bland, a woman found hanged in a jail cell three days after her arrest following a minor traffic infraction, has led to video footage of the arrest to fall under heightened scrutiny.

Following the release of dashcam footage capturing Sandra Bland’s traffic stop and controversial arrest, the Texas Department of Public Safety faced a swarm of accusations regarding doctoring of footage when viewers discovered inconsistencies in the video. The Texas DPS has since removed the original footage and replaced it with another video.

In the original footage, there were multiple instances in which video would appear to show looping images while the audio remained continuous. In one section of video around the 25 minute mark, the tow truck driver arriving to remove Bland’s car was seen exiting his truck, leaving the video frame, and then reappearing several times while trooper Brian Encinia continued speaking uninterrupted.

In another section of the video at approximately 32 minutes and 36 seconds into the footage, a white car was shown disappearing in the street and reappearing while the audio of Encinia speaking was uninterrupted.

[RELATED: Sandra Bland Dashcam Footage Appears Edited, Texas DPS Denies Manipulating Footage]

The original video uploaded by the Texas DPS was removed on Wednesday. However, a copy of the original from the YouTube channel of Photography Is Not A Crime is currently available to view and can be seen below:

Texas DPS uploaded a new video in its place, seen below, which is about three minutes shorter and does not show all of the reported errors. Neither video contains a visible time code.

Texas DPS spokesman Tom Vinger stated that the video was not edited and that uploading issues were to blame for the errors in the video.

“The entire video was uploaded to include the audio and video of the conversation the trooper had by telephone with his sergeant, which occurred after the arrest,” Vinger said in a statement. “Some of the video during this conversation was affected in the upload and is being addressed.”

Read more about the Sandra Bland case here.

Law Enforcement, FBI Probing Prison Death Of Woman Hanged In Jail Cell

The puzzling circumstances surrounding the arrest and subsequent death of Sandra Bland, a woman described by those close to her as an anti-police brutality activist, prompted a comprehensive investigation to be performed 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 detained for three days for an arrest stemming from a traffic stop. 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.”

The news of Bland’s death in police custody led to several questions, including why Bland was being held in jail as a result of what began as a traffic stop for not using her turn signal while changing lanes. According to a July 16 Texas DPS news release, Bland was arrested on July 10th during the traffic stop because she “became argumentative and uncooperative” toward police. TxDPS went on to report that Bland was arrested because she assaulted a police officer.

Ross Weidner of ABC7 Chicago tweeted a copy of what appeared to be an affidavit from a Texas DPS trooper, identified as Brian Encinia, alleging that Bland swung her elbows at the trooper and kicked his shin.

NBC News reported that the traffic stop appeared to escalate beyond a routine incident when Bland was ordered by an officer to put out her cigarette. Cannon Lambert, a lawyer for Bland’s family, said that he saw the dash cam video and Bland disagreed with the order. “Why do I have to put out a cigarette when I’m in my own car?” Lambert quoted Bland as saying to police. Lambert said that the officer “then looked to force her to get out of the car by way of opening the door and started demanding that she do.” Bland reportedly attempted to take video of the incident with her phone, but exited her vehicle when a Taser was pointed at her.

[UPDATE: Texas DPS Replaces Original Dashcam Video Of Sandra Bland Arrest]

A July 17 TxDPS release acknowledged that “In the preliminary review of the traffic stop that occurred in Prairie View on July 10, 2015, involving Sandra Bland, we have identified violations of the department’s procedures regarding traffic stops and the department’s courtesy policy.” The officer involved has been moved to administrative duty.

Police dashboard video of the traffic stop is expected to be released Tuesday according to NBC News, and TxDPS stated that video footage related to Bland’s case will be released to the public following forensic analysis. A YouTube video purported to be witness footage of part of Bland’s traffic stop can be seen below.

Brian Cantrell, the head of the criminal investigation division for Waller County Sheriff’s Office, claimed that Bland’s death was a suicide. “I want to make clear that the death of Ms. Bland was a tragic incident, not one of criminal intent or a criminal act,” Cantrell said. According to Cantrell, Bland strangled herself with a plastic bag.

Cantrell’s claim was quickly disputed by friends and family of Bland, who asserted that Bland was not suicidal. Family members said that Bland had recently started relocating from Illinois to Texas to take a new job at Prairie View A&M University. One family member reported Bland being “in good spirits” while waiting to be released from Waller County Jail.

This story has been updated to include information from the Twitter account of ABC7’s Ross Weidner.