( 4UMF NEWS ) State Trooper Who Arrested Sandra Bland Indicted:
The Texas state trooper who arrested Sandra Bland three days before she died in county jail was indicted by a grand jury Wednesday.
Brian Encinia of the Texas Department of Public Safety now faces a misdemeanor perjury charge related to the July traffic stop near Prairie View A&M, the Houston Chronicle reported
A video of the encounter that was made public provoked a national outcry. Encinia, who has been assigned to desk duties since Bland’s death, is accused of lying about how he took Bland out of her car.
The trooper’s arrest affidavit stated he “removed her from her vehicle to further conduct a safer traffic investigation” but the grand jury “found that statement to be false,” special prosecutor Shawn McDonald said at a news conference.
The same Waller County grand jury declined to indict any jail staff last month in the hanging death ruled a suicide by medical examiners. Another of the five special prosecutors, Darrell Jordan, had said the case was not over at the time.
The perjury charge, a Class A misdemeanor, could put Encinia behind bars up to a year with a fine up to $4,000 if he’s convicted. He is seen in dashcam footage of the July 10 arrest taking out his stun gun and yelling, “I will light you up!” when Bland refused to exit the vehicle.
Bland, 28, was arrested on assault charges then discovered July 13 in her cell in Hempstead, roughly 50 miles northwest of Houston, hanging from a noose made out of a plastic trash bag. She hadn’t been able to post the $500 bail.
The family of Bland, a Chicago-area woman who had moved to the area to work at Prairie View, her alma mater, has faulted a “secretive” process for the prior lack of charges in her death. Lawyers for the family filed a wrongful death lawsuit.
Encinia broke DPS rules about professionalism and courtesy in the arrest, Texas DPS Director Steve McCraw has said. The trooper said in the affidavit that Bland tried to hit him with her elbows and kicked his shin. DPS said Bland “became argumentative and uncooperative” after being pulled over for an improper lane change.
The arrest of Bland, an African-American, by Encinia, who is white, happened during a period of intense scrutiny and protest about police dealings with black suspects.