Three days after she was arrested and locked in a Texas jail cell, 28-year-old Sandra Bland was dead. Authorities say the Illinois woman committed suicide while in custody, hanging herself with a plastic garbage bag.
Now, a dash cam video has been released of the traffic stop and explosive encounter with a Texas state trooper that led to the woman being hauled off to jail. The edited video from the Waller County Department of Public Safety is raising new questions about what happened on the Texas roadside — focusing new scrutiny on the incident that escalated into a shouting match between the arresting officer and the woman who was constantly berating and insulting him.
The trooper, identified as Brian Encinia, had reportedly pulled over Bland’s car for failure to signal a lane change. The dash cam video shows that Encinia became upset when Bland refused to obey his order to get out of her vehicle. He opened the car door and reached in, apparently trying to drag her out. Encinia drew his stun gun and threatened Bland, saying, “I will light you up.”
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After Bland reluctantly climbed out of her car, the trooper ordered her off the road and out of camera range, though the audio of their heated arguing was still being recorded. As reported by the Associated Press in an article posted to Yahoo! News:
“Out of the camera’s view, Bland goes on protesting her arrest, repeatedly using expletives and calling the officer a ‘pussy.’ She screams that he’s about to break her wrists and complains that he knocked her head into the ground.”
After another patrol car with assisting troopers arrived, Bland was hauled off to the Waller County jail, charged with assault on a public servant. Only days later, she was found dead in her cell. Family, friends, and supporters question the official explanation of suicide; and protests have begun to spring up on social media as well as on the streets around Hempstead, Texas.
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The account on Yahoo! News of the controversial incident notes that the trooper’s boss has already begun to publicly criticize the lawman’s behavior.
“Regardless of the situation — it doesn’t matter where it happens — a DPS state trooper has got an obligation to exhibit professionalism and be courteous … and that wasn’t the case in this situation,” said Steven McCraw, the department director.
By clicking on the video above, courtesy of USA Today, you can see for yourself an edited recording from State Trooper Encinia’s patrol car on that fateful day last week — a recording that offers at least a partial account of what happened on the Texas roadside.
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