Police have released dashcam video of the arrest of Sandra Bland, a woman who had allegedly been pulled over for a traffic violation, and was later found dead in a Texas jail cell.
The video shows Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia approaching Bland’s vehicle July 10, after having stopped her for failing to signal.
The encounter appears to go smoothly, until Encinia returns to Bland’s vehicle with her documents. Encinia asks Bland if she’s ok. That leads to an apparently terse verbal exchange that quickly escalates after the officer asks Bland to put out her cigarette.
Shortly after Bland refuses, Encinia orders her out of the car.
The two begin to struggle physically struggle with each other, at which point, Encinia says “I will light you up,” threatening to tase her, according to Texas lawmakers who commented on the police video released Tuesday.
Over the course of the video, Bland asks the officer why she is being arrested 14 times. The officer never gives a clear answer.
The release of the video comes after days of protests — both on social media and offline — questioning the legitimacy of Bland’s arrest. She was found hanged in a jail cell days later, from an apparent suicide, according to officials.
Bland’s death is being treated as a murder probe after Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said there were “too many questions ” to determine how she died.
Texas state Senator Royce West said in a news conference Tuesday, “Once you see what occured, you would probably agree with me that [Bland] shouldn’t have been taken into custody.”
According to Bland’s family, preparations were being made to post her $US5,000 bond before she died.
Some are now questioning the validity of the video released by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Some anomalies can be seen in the video, beginning at 25:08, that appear to show the same two vehicles — a light-coloured SUV and a blue Volkswagen Beetle — passing the scene at least 4 times. The audio of Trooper Encina, who is apparently discussing details of the ordeal to a colleague, is unchanged.
DPS Director, Steven McCraw said in a statement, “DPS has been working closely with the family of Ms. Bland, during this investigation, and the department extends our sincere condolences for their tragic loss.”
Encinia is on administrative leave, while the DPS and FBI investigate.
Watch the video of the traffic stop below:
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