The Texas Department of Public Safety has released a 51-minute video of Sandra Bland's traffic stop and arrest, after showing it privately to several local and state officials in a Tuesday meeting. Bland was arrested earlier this month and found dead in her jail cell three days later. She was on her way to Texas from Illinois to start a new job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University.
NPR's Martin Kaste told our Newscast Unit about the contents of that dashcam video. "On the video, Texas state trooper Brian Encinia pulls Bland over for failing to signal a lane-change," Kaste said. "Bland is terse with the trooper, and after a few minutes, the tension between them flares up."
Kaste continues, "They argue over whether he has the right to make her get out, things escalate into a shouting match, and then he pulls his taser."
At one point, state trooper Encinia yells at Bland, "I will light you up." State trooper leadership has said Encinia did not follow proper procedure; he's now on desk duty. Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said after viewing the video that Bland was "not compliant" with the officer's orders.
During the interaction, Bland refused to get out of her car and put out a cigarette. Encinia claims Bland kicked him. At the point where he says that happened, their interaction is off-camera.
Video taken by a bystander, released earlier this month, showed Bland on the ground after being detained, telling the officer she could not feel her arm and that her head had been slammed into the ground.
Bland was arrested and charged with assaulting an officer. Three days after her arrest, Bland was found dead in a Waller County jail cell. Officials have said evidence indicates that Bland's death was a suicide, a hanging with a plastic bag. Bland's family disagrees and says she was trying to get out of jail.
Waller County Judge Trey Duhon and Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis met privately on Tuesday with family members of Bland, at the family attorney's request. The officials told Bland's family that during the investigation, they "will leave no stone unturned." In a statement, Duhon and Mathis said it was a "very positive meeting." Mathis has said he will treat the death "no differently than a murder investigation."
In a press conference Tuesday, District Attorney Mathis elaborated, "It has not been determined at this point that this was a murder," and said it's always been the policy of the district attorney's office to investigate suspicious deaths as potential homicides. He said a grand jury would later determine if charges are to be brought.
State Sen. Royce West had been calling for the release of Bland's arrest video for days. He was at the private meeting where officials viewed it Tuesday, and spoke during a press conference before the video's release. According to NBC-DFW, West said during that press conference, "We will be patient to allow the process to work itself out — but it will be transparent ... we're going to be watching every step of the way to make sure that the job will be done correctly."
— via NPR's The Two-Way