Nearly four years after being found dead in a Texas jail cell, footage of the police confrontation which preceded Sandra Bland’s arrest has been released to the public for the first time.
According to The New York Times, Bland, 28, recorded part of her encounter with then-trooper Brian Encinia, where he’s seen threatening Bland and pointing a stun gun at her from outside her car window. The controversial traffic stop gained international attention after the Chicago native was found hanging in a Waller County jail cell in what officials ultimately ruled a suicide.
Bland was en route to a grocery store when she was pulled over for not using her turn signal when changing lanes.
“Get out of the car. I will light you up!” Encinia is heard saying on the video footage. while wielding a stun gun.
Bland, still filming, exits her car and Encinia tells her to put her phone down. Bland mentions that she has the right to record as the trooper repeats the command. The video ends seconds later.
Bland’s 39-second cellphone footage has come to light years later due to an investigation conducted by WFAA. The video has been cited by the late woman’s family as proof that authorities withheld evidence regarding her arrest and subsequent death.
Before this week, Echinia’s dashcam footage was believed to be the only recording from the 2015 arrest. The news outlet reported that they obtained Bland’s video only after the criminal investigation was closed.
In light of the newly-released video, Bland’s relatives called for the case to be re-opened, alleging investigators intentionally withheld the video.
The Dallas Morning News reported that Bland’s family sued the Texas Department of Public Safety in a wrongful death lawsuit that was settled for $1.9 million.
Echinia was initially charged with perjury, but the charge was dropped after he agreed to never work in law enforcement again. Echinia was criminally charged after grand jurors found he lied when claiming that he removed Bland for her car to complete a safer traffic stop, according to the New York Times.
Meanwhile, the Texas Department of Public Safety denied constructing a coverup which entailed them withholding Bland’s video.
“The premise that the video was not produced as a part of the discovery process is wrong,” they told WFAA in a statement. “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.”
[Featured image: WFAA video screengrab]