Sandra Bland's own video of 2015 Texas traffic stop surfaces

Combined Shape

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Cellphone video recorded by Sandra Bland, a black woman found dead in a Texas jail following a confrontational 2015 traffic stop, shows for the first time her perspective as a white state trooper draws his stun gun and points it at close range while ordering her out of her car.

The 39-second clip revealed by the Investigative Network, a nonprofit news organization in Texas, aired Monday night on Dallas television station WFAA .

Bland was found hanging in her jail cell outside Houston three days after her arrest. Her death and dashcam video showing Trooper Brian Encinia trying to pull the 28-year-old Chicago-area woman out of her vehicle became flashpoints in the debate over the treatment of black people by police.

The clip begins at the most dramatic moment of the July 2015 traffic stop near Prairie View A&M University: Encinia has opened Bland’s car door and draws his stun gun as she tries to steady her phone’s camera. The flashlights on the stun gun flick on and Encinia yells, “Get out of the car! I will light you up. Get out!”

Bland exits the car and continues to record Encinia as he orders her onto the sidewalk. The stun gun is still pointed at her and the flashlights remain on. He instructs her to get off the phone, to which Bland replies, “I’m not on the phone. I have a right to record. This is my property.”

Trending:
CNN's Don Lemon Fails to Get Guest to Take 'Bait,' Instead Gets Contradicted on Slavery

The video ends seconds later after Encinia tells her to put the phone down.

The emergence of the cellphone video raised questions about who had seen it until now. Cannon Lambert, an attorney for the Bland family who settled lawsuits against the state of Texas and the Waller County Jail that totaled nearly $2 million combined, said he never saw the clip until it was recently shared by a news reporter.

Lambert said he didn’t see the video in evidence turned over by investigators, which he said he wanted to believe was just human error. Democratic state Rep. Garnet Coleman, who in 2017 sponsored the “Sandra Bland Act” that Bland’s family criticized for being weakened before it was signed into law, said Monday night he would look into why the family never saw the footage.

“It is troubling that a crucial piece of evidence was withheld from Sandra Bland’s family and legal team in their pursuit of justice,” Coleman said in a statement.

The Texas Department of Public Safety disputed the premise that the video was not provided, saying it was included as part of a large hard drive of evidence from the investigation. It also said Bland’s cellphone video had previously been publicly released in 2017, when it was given to an Austin television station under open records law.

Katherine Cesinger, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety, said “the existence of the cellphone video was known to all parties” at the time and that two years after the family’s lawsuits it is “unclear what arrangements, if any, were made by the plaintiffs to view the video.”

Encinia, who was fired after being indicted for perjury over the traffic stop, said he came to fear for his safety after stopping Bland for failing to signal a lane change.

“The video makes it abundantly clear there was nothing she was doing in that car that put him at risk at all,” Lambert said.

The perjury charge was later dropped in exchange for Encinia agreeing to never work in law enforcement again.

Related:
Bombing Kills at Least 30 Near School in Afghan Capital Amid US Troop Withdrawal

That Bland was holding up a cellphone is clear in the original dashcam footage. Chip Lewis, Encinia’s attorney, said the cellphone footage doesn’t illuminate anything beyond what the dashcam video already showed.

He said “furtive gestures” made by Bland from inside her car presented a risk and was the impetus for Encinia trying to remove her.

“From a law enforcement standpoint, it had nothing to do with her being agitated as you may have seen on her recording,” Lewis said.

___

This story has been corrected to show that the spelling of the Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman’s last name is Cesinger, not Cesigner.

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →






We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

Tags:
The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands.
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
Location
New York City




Conversation