The Texas Department of Public Safety has released the dashcam video of the arrest of Sandra Bland. The almost hour long video features the first interaction between Bland and Trooper Brian Encinia after she’s pulled over for not using her turn signal. It seems to be going all right until Encinia tells Bland she seems irritated and Bland confirms it. He then tells Bland to put out her cigarette, but she refuses to because she’s in her own car. Encinia orders her to get out, opens her door, and reaches in. It’s tough to see if he’s trying to pull her out, but it’s possible he was due to the way he’s positioned. Encinia then pulls a Taser and points it at her. Bland gets out and walks around the back of the car, with her phone in her hand. She’s probably recording her interaction with Encinia, which is her right. Bland slams the phone down on the car’s trunk after being ordered to do so. The full video is below and is Not Safe For Work due to language.
The two do get into a fight almost 13 minutes into the video, but it happens off-camera. Cell phone video posted up on YouTube only shows the aftermath.
Some details of the fight are in Encinia’s arrest report.
Bland was placed in handcuffs for officer safety. Bland began swinging her elbows at me and then kicked my right leg in the shin…Force was used to subdue Bland to the ground to which Bland continued to fight back.
The problem is there’s no way of knowing if Encinia is telling the truth because the report doesn’t mention the Taser. The Texas Rangers are trying to figure out why Encinia failed to mention it, but a body camera could have cleared this up. It also could confirm whether Bland’s claims that her head was shoved to the ground are true. It’s important to note Encinia was acting within his authority when he gave her a “lawful order” to get out of the car. It’s part of the Texas Transportation Code, although it doesn’t say if those who disobey get charged with anything. It may just be a fine. But DPS made the right call to put him on desk duty. Director Steve McCraw admitted Encinia didn’t handle the situation well.
A DPS state trooper has an obligation to exhibit professionalism and be courteous throughout the entire contact and that wasn’t the case here.
It’s obvious Encinia lost his cool, and only he and God know why. Bland did mouth off to him, but there’s no reason for him to yell back. The way he handled everything was wrong and it was just stupid of him to tell Bland “good” when she claims to have epilepsy. This doesn’t necessarily absolve Bland of guilt because she shouldn’t have mouthed off to him. But Encinia made things worse by yelling back after she wouldn’t put her cigarette out. He also escalated how things were by getting up in her face when Bland wouldn’t obey his command. Bland may not have even known the “lawful order” rule. I’ve lived in Texas almost my entire life and didn’t even know it. I’d also obey a law enforcement officer’s orders, but that’s how I was raised. Bland may not have been, but I don’t know that. She still shouldn’t have been pulled over in the first place, but not everyone agrees with me. That’s fine, I don’t expect everyone to.
There’s no denying law enforcement officers have a tough, extremely stressful job. There are plenty of good cops out there, and Encinia may be one of them. But there’s no way to defend what he did during the traffic stop. It’s just wrong and unprofessional. Encinia probably isn’t a racist; just someone who lost his temper when he came in contact with someone who was disrespectful. Bland really should be alive today, and hopefully the investigation will clear everything up. It’s possible she did commit suicide in the Waller County Jail. Everyone appears to be open about what’s going on and that’s a good thing. It’s just really disappointing how Encinia reacted and that there wasn’t a body camera to show the rest of the story.