Tensions flare in Texas Capitol over new Sandra Bland video

Combined Shape

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas authorities on Friday denied withholding a cellphone video of Sandra Bland’s confrontational traffic stop, responding to a Democratic legislator’s heated questions about why the 39-second clip never publicly surfaced until now.

Bland, a 28-year-old black woman from outside Chicago, had used her phone in 2015 to briefly film a white state trooper as he drew a stun gun and yelled “I will light you up!” while ordering her out of the car. She was dead three days later, hanging in her jail cell outside Houston. Her death was ruled a suicide.

“The Department of Public Safety has not illegally withheld evidence from Sandra Bland’s family or her legal team,” said Phillip Adkins, general counsel of the department.

The video had not been publicly seen until it was aired this month by a Dallas television station, and both lawmakers and Bland’s family say they had also never seen the clip . They say the video proves that Trooper Brian Encinia had no reason to fear for his life and questioned whether he should have faced charges beyond perjury.

Democratic presidential contenders in the crowded 2020 field have also reacted to the video with calls for accountability and criminal justice reforms .

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

Explanations by state officials were challenged, often sharply, by Democratic state Rep. Garnet Coleman, who said he never received the video despite asking for all evidence as chairman of the House Committee on County Affairs. He told Adkins he was handed a jumbled “data dump” of four discs and said the description of Bland’s cellphone video in the state’s investigative report wasn’t an honest account.

“I disagree with you. I think it’s a fair and accurate description of the video,” Adkins said.

Coleman interrupted, talking over him.

“You can disagree all day long, because I don’t have lying eyes, sir,” he said. “I’ve looked into this more than anyone.”

Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal of Chicago, attended the hearing at the Texas Capitol but did not testify. She told reporters afterward she heard “a lot of discrepancies” at the hearing but declined further comment.

Encinia, the trooper, was fired after being indicted for perjury and said he came to fear for his safety after stopping Bland for failing to signal a lane change. The perjury charge was later dropped in exchange for Encinia agreeing to never work in law enforcement again.

Coleman said Encinia “got off light” and accused state officials of not being ethically forthcoming with their handling of the video. Hours after the hearing, Texas DPS released a copy of a letter sent in October 2015 to the Bland’s family attorney, Cannon Lambert, notifying him that a “cell phone download” of Bland’s phone was enclosed on a thumb drive. Lambert said he never saw the video in the evidence that was turned over to him.

The hearing had been quickly arranged before the Texas Legislature adjourns Monday until 2021. One proposal that could still reach Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk would make it more difficult to jail people for low-level misdemeanors, which some lawmakers have sought in the wake of Bland’s death. Law enforcement groups, however, are fighting the measure.

In 2017, Coleman passed a “Sandra Bland Act” that included de-escalation training, independent investigations of county jail deaths and more racial profiling data. Advocates for criminal justice reforms have praised the changes, but the end product disappointed Bland’s family, who felt it didn’t address the circumstances leading up to her death.

Related:
Police Respond to Simultaneous Mass Shooting and Fire in Maryland Neighborhood

___

Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pauljweber

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