The Sandra Bland case is back in the news as cellphone video has surfaced showing her confrontational encounter with police in 2015.
Recorded by Bland, the video shows the 28-year-old arguing with Trooper Brian Encinia who pulled her over for failing to use her turn signal. While the clip doesn’t show the whole incident, you can hear Encinia repeatedly telling Bland to get out of the car.
She doesn’t comply with his orders and instead asks “Why am I being apprehended? You’re trying to give me a ticket for a failure …” The argument continues for a few more seconds, before Encinia pulls his taser and yells “Get out.” He then tells Bland, “I will light you up.”
Bland eventually exits the vehicle and continues to call the officer out for overacting to a simple violation. Encinia then tells Bland to get off the phone to which she responds, “I’m not on the phone, I have a right to record.” The video ends shortly thereafter.
The clip is less than a minute long, but the Texas Department of Public Safety has previously released dashcam footage showing Bland’s arrest. That videos shows a relatively routine traffic stop quickly spiral out of control.
After pulling Bland over and running her information, Encinia returns to the car and asks Bland if she is okay. Bland responds by saying she’s waiting for Encinia to finish up and admits she’s irritated. Bland then tries to explain she was “getting out of the way” of the officer before being pulled over.
Encinia rudely says “Are you done?” after Bland answers his question. He then asks Bland to put out her cigarette to which she responds “I’m in my car, why do I have to put out my cigarette?”
This appears to make Encinia angry as he then tells Bland “You can step on out now.” Bland refuses and Encinia opens the door while continuing to demand that Bland exit the vehicle. The video then appears to show Encinia unsuccessfully attempting to pull Bland from the car, before picking up where she began recording.
After Bland exits the vehicle, the two move out of view of the dashcam but continue arguing. Other officers eventually arrive on the scene and Encinia explains that Bland “started yanking away and then kicked me, so I took her straight to the ground.” The officers then search her car, before it’s towed away.
The incident made national news three days later when Bland died in jail of what the Waller County Sheriff’s Office’s called an apparent “self-inflicted asphyxiation.” NBC News reports Bland’s family sued the jail and the state of Texas and the case was settled for approximately $2 (£1.5 / €1.8) million. Encinia was eventually fired.
The lawyer in that case, Cannon Lambert, told The Associated Press the video was never turned over to them. He went on to say “The illegal withholding of evidence by one side from the other destroys our legal system’s ability to produce fair and just outcomes.”
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However, the Texas Department of Public Safety says the video was indeed provided to lawyers and was also released to a TV station, in 2017, as part of an apparent Freedom of Information Act request.
Regardless, Bland’s cellphone video surfaced publicly for the first time recently and this gives us her point of view. While it doesn’t change the tragic outcome, her case help to invigorate the Black Lives Matter movement.