Video Released Taken by Sandra Bland During Her Arrest
Nearly 4 years after her death, a video taken by Sandra Bland during her arrest has been released, which marks the first time even her family have seen it.
The death of Sandra Bland while in a jail near Houston made national headlines after her questionable death was ruled a suicide. A 39-second video recorded by Bland during her arrest was acquired by WFAA and the Investigative Network and released Monday.
Bland's family and their attorney claim that the video was not provided to them by the state during the discovery process, accusing the state of withholding evidence and demanding they reopen the investigation. The Texas Department of Public Safety denied the allegations, issuing a statement saying,
The premise that the video was not produced as a part of the discovery process is wrong. A hard drive containing copies of 820 Gigabytes of data compiled by DPS from its investigation, including the dashcam videos, jail video footage and data from Sandra Bland’s cell phone, was part of discovery.
After WFAA ran the story Monday night, state Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) issued a statement,
It is troubling that a crucial piece of evidence was withheld from Sandra Bland's family and legal team in their pursuit of justice. The illegal withholding of evidence by one side from the other destroys our legal system's ability to produce fair and just outcomes. As Chair of the House Committee on County Affairs that looked into the death of Sandra Bland, I will make sure that the Committee will also look into how this happened.
I am glad to see that the Sandra Bland Act is already making a difference in terms of better training for jailers and new officers. Additionally, through new data reporting requirements regarding traffic stops, the Act has already helped push local reforms and key legislative policies forward such as House Bill 2754 by Representative White, of which I am a Joint-Author of, that prevents arrests for nonjailable offenses. HB 2754's policy was part of the original Sandra Bland Act as filed last session. I am proud that the Act has had a positive impact and will continue to make a difference in the future.
The officer in the video, DPS Trooper Brian Encinia, had pulled Bland over for changing lanes without signaling. The traffic stop escalated when Bland refused to put her cigarette out. Encinia told investigators that he felt his life was in danger several times during the stop. Encinia was later fired by DPS and charged with perjury, a charge that was later dropped when he agreed to never work as a police officer again.