NOTE: DASHCAM VIDEO CONTAINS FOUL LANGUAGE. CONFRONTATION WITH TROOPER STARTS ABOUT 8:15 INTO VIDEO.
WALLER COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – Dashcam video of Sandra Bland’s traffic stop was released moments after Texas lawmakers met with Waller County law enforcement officials for several hours to talk about the 28-year-old’s death. Bland was found dead in a Waller County jail cell, three days after her arrest for assault on a public servant.
The video shows Texas DPS trooper Brian Encinia pulling Bland over for failure to signal a lane change. At about the 8:15 minute mark in the video, the traffic stop turns combative.
When Trooper Encinia returns Bland’s car to issue her the ticket, he mentions that she seems irritated. Bland says that she is irritated that she is getting a ticket, explaining that she was trying to get out the trooper’s way as he sped up behind her.
Then, Encinia asks Bland to put out her cigarette, to which she replies, “I’m in my car. Why do I have to put out my cigarette?” At that time Encinia says, “Well, you can step on out now.”
Bland says, “I don’t have to step out of my car.”
Encinia asks her to step out one more time before he opens her door, while continuing to order her to get out of the car. Bland continues to refuse. Encinia reaches into the car, while repeating the order and threatens to forcibly remove Bland from the car, saying he will “yank her” and “drag her” out of the car. Bland continues to resist, saying she is not under arrest. At that point, Encinia replies, “You are under arrest.”
Eventually, Bland gets out of the car of her own free will, and the two move to the side away from the dash camera’s view. You can hear Encinia order her to put phone down, as she tries to record the encounter. Bland and Encinia continue to argue, while Encinia handcuffs her and orders her to stop moving.
Before the video was publicly released, Encinia was placed on administrative leave for violating procedures and the department’s courtesy policy during the traffic stop. Encinia wrote in the arrest affidavit that after handcuffing Bland for becoming combative, she swung her elbows at him and kicked him in his right shin.
Encinia said he then used force “to subdue Bland to the ground,” and she continued to fight back. He arrested her for assault on a public servant.
State records show Encinia has been a trooper for the Texas Department of Public Safety for just over a year.
Meanwhile, Waller County’s District Attorney Elton Mathis said the jail death investigation will be treated as a murder investigation would, where “no stone is left unturned.” Authorities initially said Waller hung herself in her cell with a trash bag. Although, Mathis later said it was too soon to rule her death a suicide. Bland’s family said she was excited to start her new job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University, and was not suicidal.
Waller County authorities have acknowledged mistakes were made during the arrest and incarceration of Bland. The Texas Commission on Jail Standards last week cited the county jail for not providing documents proving that jailers in the past year had undergone training on interacting with inmates who are mentally disabled or potentially suicidal.
The citation also shows jailers fell short by not observing inmates in-person at least once every hour. The sheriff’s office in a statement Friday said jailers checked on Bland via intercom on one occasion rather than in person. Authorities said these violations did not contribute to Bland’s death.
Texas state leaders, including Senator Royce West and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, emphasized the investigation would be transparent and thorough. Both men also assured the public that the grand jury who would hear the evidence relating to this case would be ethnically diverse.