The Texas Department of Public Safety officer who arrested Sandra Bland back in July has been indicted on charges of perjury (read: lying). According to the Houston Chronicle, Brian Encinia could face up to a year in prison and a $4,000 fine if he’s convicted. The grand jury found that he lied in his report following Bland’s arrest. Bland was imprisoned, and found dead by hanging in her cell three days later.
Encinia stopped Bland for an improper lane change on July 10, 2015. His dascham video showed him getting increasingly belligerent with Bland; he waved his taser around and shouted, “I will light you up!” to her at one point. Authorities suggested to the family that they contributed to her death, which was ruled a suicide, because they wouldn’t pay the $515 to bail her out.
In other words, the county wanted to protect themselves and their officer. Sandra Bland was black, and not entitled to the same care that a white prisoner would have received. Watch the video of her arrest below:
The dashcam video, which appears in the Chronicle’s story, shows that Encinio got angry with Bland when she wouldn’t put her cigarette out. He’d seemed somewhat cordial with her, even accepting her explanation for why she was irritated. When she refused to put her cigarette out, it was like that was the last straw for him. He started ordering her out of her car, and then pulled her out bodily when she refused.
He wouldn’t tell her what he was pulling her out for, nor why he was suddenly so determined to place her under arrest. In his report, Encinia said that he’d removed her from her car to conduct a safe traffic investigation. The grand jury, which saw the dashcam video, decided that was false. He really didn’t have much reason to pull her out of her car, and it appears he did so because he was upset with her and wanted to put her in her place.
It’s a shame that perjury is only a Class A misdemeanor under Texas law. Encinia’s actions contributed directly to Bland’s death because he had no reason to arrest and imprison her in the first place. She would likely still be alive if he’d just done his job, given her a ticket, and let her go.