The Texas Department of Public Safety has released a 52-minute dashcam video of the altercation between Trooper Brian Encinia and activist Sandra Bland. Bland, who was initially pulled over for a minor traffic violation, was later arrested on charges of assaulting an officer. Three days later she was found dead in her cell. Jail authorities claim she hanged herself with a garbage bag and the coroner has ruled the death a suicide.
According to The Guardian, the video appears to have been edited. NBC News said Texas Department of Public Safety officials couldn’t explain why the video showed cuts and jumps. Director Ava DuVernay tweeted, “I edit footage for a living. But, anyone can see the official video has been cut.”
The video shows Encinia leave a previous stop and tail Bland’s vehicle for a while, then pull her over for failing to signal when making a lane change. Encinia remarks that Bland seemed annoyed at the traffic stop.
“I am, I really am,” she replies, “because I feel like it’s crap is what I’m getting a ticket for, I was getting out of your way, you were speeding up, tailing me so I moved over and you stopped me so yeah, I am a little irritated but that doesn’t stop you from giving me a ticket, so.”
However, the situation escalates when the officer asks Bland to put out her cigarette. She replies that she has the right to smoke in her own vehicle.
“When she refuses, Encinia becomes irate and leans into her car, apparently trying to pull her out. ‘I’m going to yank you out of here,’ he says. ‘I’m going to drag you out of here.’ He pulls what appears to be a Taser out of a holster and shouts: ‘Get out of the car. I will light you up. Get out. Now,” reported The Guardian.
Officer Encinia seems to be particularly incensed that Bland didn’t do as he commanded. He threatens to arrest her when she refuses to step out of her vehicle. And when the altercation becomes violent, he accuses her of trying to assault an officer. Bland seemed to be following the law and was outraged that a simple traffic stop had escalated into her being thrown violently to the ground and handcuffed.
Cannon Lambert, an attorney for the Bland family, said the video refutes Trooper Encinia’s charge of being assaulted by Bland.
“I saw nothing on the video that shows her making contact with the officer,” said Lambert in an appearance on Roland Martin’s NewsOne Now.
Texas Department of Public Safety officials say Encinia violated traffic stop procedure and courtesy policy. He has been confined to desk duty.
“There’s no excuse for any instance where we don’t conduct traffic stops in a professional manner,” said Steven McCraw, the DPS director.
State Sen. Royce West said he was glad the video was made public and encouraged other law enforcement agencies to look into the case.
“We want the Department of Justice, we want the FBI and every agency like it to look at it to make sure that no one in America can say this was whitewashed,” West said.
Before it was released to the public, the video was viewed by several state and federal elected officials such as Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and two state senators. Appearing on NewsOne Now, Texas Sen. Rodney Ellis said there were many troubling aspects to the video, especially the trooper’s lack of professionalism. He also said a simple traffic stop should have never led to a violent arrest and death.
“There is no way to justify a young woman at the prime of her career, getting ready to kick off a very exhilarating life, ending up being dead,” Martin said.