Newly released footage from Sandra Bland‘s 2015 traffic stop is sparking calls for the investigation into her arrest, and subsequent death, to be re-opened.
The video, uncovered by Dallas station WFAA in conjunction with the Investigation Network, shows the moment Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia draws his Taser and screams “I will light you up!” as Bland, 28, records. Their tense encounter ended with the arrest of Bland, who was discovered dead inside a Waller County Jail cell three days later.
Her death was ruled a suicide.
Before now, Encinia’s dashcam footage was thought to be the only recording of the now infamous traffic stop. Now, Bland’s family, who’d never seen the cell phone video before Monday, is demanding a re-investigation after they say Texas officials intentionally withheld evidence in the case.
“Open up the case, period,” said Bland’s sister, Shante Neeham, after seeing the video, adding that the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has an “extremely, extremely good cover-up system.”
The agency denies this, however.
“The premise [that] the video was not produced as a part of the discovery process is wrong,” DPS said in a statement. “A hard drive containing copies of 820 Gigabytes of data compiled by DPS from its investigation, including the dashcam videos, jail video footage, [and] data from Sandra Bland’s cell phone, was part of discovery.”
According to WFAA, “An investigative report mentions the cell phone video, but the mention is buried more than 60 pages into the document. “
However, the station also added that the 39-second-clip remained with investigators until it was obtained by the Investigative Network, which got ahold of the footage once the criminal investigation was complete. The video was never released to the public.
Moreover, Bland’s family said the clip was never given to them either — even after the Texas Rangers and FBI discovered it on Bland’s cellphone some two months after the arrest and her death.
Bland was headed down a highway when Encinia, driving in the opposite direction, made a U-turn, pulled in behind her, then stopped her for failing to user her turn signal after she changed lanes to let him pass. The trooper, by now finished writing a citation and ready to present to Bland, first ask her if she was irritated and, getting an explanation in the affirmative, then asked Bland, “You mind putting out your cigarette, please?” to which she replied she was in her own car so why should she have to put out her cigarette. That’s when Encinia grew enraged, flung open Bland’s door and threatened to drag her out of the car.
“I will light you up! Get out! Now!” he shouts. It’s at this point that Bland takes out her cellphone to record, as seen in the initial dashcam video.
A war of words ensues, and the Texas woman winds up beaten and in handcuffs on the side of the road.
Authorities claimed Bland hanged herself inside her jail cell just days after her arrest. The 28-year-old had reportedly acknowledged struggling with her mental health, however, her family has remained skeptical that she would take her own life.
Bland’s family pursued a wrongful death suit against Waller County and Texas DPS, which they settled for $1.9 million in 2016.
As for Encinia, the former trooper was booted from the force and charged with perjury following the incident. The charges were dismissed, however, after Encinia surrendered his license and agreed to never work as a police officer again.
Watch more in the video below.