Dashcam Video Of Sandra Bland Arrest Shows Heated Confrontation
The video was released Tuesday after Texas officials promised a thorough and transparent investigation into the jailhouse death of the 28-year-old woman.
Dashcam video that shows Sandra Bland's arrest shows an officer who was "overzealous" and "overstepped his authority," an attorney representing Bland's family said Wednesday.
Attorney Cannon Lambert, who is representing Bland's attorney, said he would not rule out the possibility of a lawsuit, but that he and Bland's family were waiting for the results of investigation surrounding her death in Waller County Jail.
The dashcam video released Wednesday, however, raised serious questions as to why Bland was taken into custody in the first place, Lambert said.
"If you look at the dashcam video, I think you see right out of the gate, right out of the gate, you see in the dashcam this could have been easily avoided," Lambert. "This happened because an officer was overzealous, because an officer decided to overstep his authority."
Three days after her arrest, Bland was found dead in her jail cell, in what Waller County Sheriff officials said appears to be a suicide. Family members have disputed that assertion, stating Bland was beginning a new job and had not been diagnosed with depression.
Lambert said he and the family would be looking for a forensic effort to ensure the dashcam video released Tuesday, and the jail cell footage released earlier this week, has not been altered by authorities.
Bland's sister, Sharon Cooper, said the video suggested that the routine traffic stop quickly escalated because the "officer felt his ego was bruised."
"Not once did he say he felt threatened," Cooper said during the press conference. "I'm infuriated, and everyone else should be infuriated as well."
Texas officials on Tuesday released dashcam video of the traffic stop that led to Sandra Bland's arrest, and reiterated their promise to carry out a thorough and transparent investigation into her subsequent death inside her jail cell three days later.
The nearly hourlong video shows Bland being pulled over by a state trooper — identified in Bland's warrant for arrest as Brian T. Encinia — for failing to signal a lane change, and what appears to be a curt, short exchange between the two quickly turns into a violent encounter that ended with Bland in jail.
When Encinia returns to the car — with what he later described as a warning — tensions quickly escalate when he asks Bland to put out a cigarette.
"You mind putting out your cigarette, please?" the trooper asks. "Do you mind?"
"I'm in my car, why do I have to put out my cigarette?" Bland responds.
"Well, you can step out now," Encinia says.
Bland repeatedly refuses to step out of the car despite Encinia's orders, and both begin to yell as the trooper opens the door and the two begin to scuffle inside the vehicle.
In the video, Encinia can be heard repeatedly ordering Bland to get out of the car, as she continues to refuse.
At one point, the trooper yells, "Get out of the car! I will light you up!"
This is the video:
The two continue to struggle inside the car, and Bland asks why she is being apprehended. When she walks out of the car, the two continue to yell as the trooper tries to get Bland in handcuffs.
"You're doing this all for a failure to signal. Yeah, let's take this to court."
Encinia commands Bland to put her cell phone down, and as the two continue to argue, they come out of view of the dashcam.
"This right here says, 'Warning!'" the trooper yells. "You started creating a problem."
Cell phone video captured by a bystander later shows Bland on the ground and Encinia holding her down.
The Texas Department of Public Safety said Tuesday evening it was looking into whether or not the dashcam video was edited, NBC News reported. Breaks in the video's continuity are visible at several points, though DPS spokesman Tom Vinger would not speculate Tuesday on what caused them.
"I will have to check in the morning. I can't speculate without looking at the CD," Vinger told NBC News.
At a news conference Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said the investigation into Bland's jail cell death three days after her arrest will look into two parts — her July 10 arrest, and her time spent inside the Waller County jail.
Officials have said Bland became confrontational with the trooper, including failing to follow commands. But the Texas Department of Public Safety said procedures were violated during the exchange, including traffic stop procedures and the department's courtesy policy.
Encinia has been removed from street patrol while the investigation is carried out.
"There's a tragedy that happened here, regardless of who's at fault," Patrick said. "A young lady lost her life. Everybody's life matters."
Texas state Sen. Royce West, addressing the recent high-profile deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement agencies across the country, said officials were aware of the public concerns, and that elected officials would work to ensure a complete and transparent investigation.
"We know what's going on in America," West said. "We want the facts to come out."
On Monday, the Waller County district attorney's office released footage from inside the jail where Bland was being held the day she was found dead in her cell.
In an affidavit for arrest, Encinia wrote that Bland was "combative and uncooperative" during the July 10 traffic stop, and that the behavior continued after she was taken out of the car and placed in handcuffs.
After she was cuffed, according to Encinia, Bland "began swinging her elbows at me and then kicked my right leg in the shin," prompting him to use force.
Three days later, Bland was found dead in her Waller County jail cell.
Just before the news conference on Tuesday, Waller County Judge Trey Duhon and District Attorney Elton Mathis met with Sandra Bland's sister, mother, and their attorney.
According to a statement released by Duhon, Mathis reassured family members during the hourlong meeting that Bland's death appears to be a suicide, but that the investigation would be handled "no differently than a murder investigation, which no stone is left unturned."
Waller County sheriff's officials have said they believe Bland committed suicide by hanging using a trash bag in her cell — a finding that friends and family members have strongly rebuffed.
The operators of the jail where Bland died have also since been cited for not proving that jailers had been trained on interacting with inmates with mental disabilities or who may be suicidal, the Associated Press reported.
The citation, according to AP, showed jailers fell short of requirements to check on inmates every hour.
Sheriff's officials have said they checked on Bland once via intercom, but that they don't believe those "deficiencies" played any part in her death.
Hours after the dashcam video was released, Bland's mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, attended a memorial for her daughter at Johnson-Phillip All Faiths Church on Prairie View A&M University's campus, multiple news outlets reported.
There, she spoke of Bland's desire to address injustices when she was alive, the Dallas Morning News reported.
"Once I put this baby in the ground," she said. "I'm ready... This means war."