WATCH ABOVE: Compare eyewitness cellphone footage of Sandra Bland’s arrest to dashcam video released by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Family and supporters of Sandra Bland have questioned how the 28-year-old died in a Texas jail cell, three days after being arrested during a routine traffic stop.
But the release of police dashcam video of the July 10 arrest in the city of Prairie View, has brought to light how the situation escalated from Bland being pulled over for failing to signal a lane change to her being pinned down on the ground and taken into custody.
According to police in Waller County, Bland took her own life on July 13 — saying she hanged herself in the cell with a plastic bag — but her death is being investigated by federal authorities to determine whether that was indeed the case.
Cellphone video that emerged after her arrest clearly shows Texas state trooper Brian Encinia attempting to restrain Bland while a female officer, who arrived on the scene after things turned confrontational, continues to hold Bland to the ground with her knee on the woman’s back.
Much of what was caught on video by a passerby is not seen in the dashcam video as it occurs on a stretch of grass off to the right of Encinia’s and Bland’s vehicles.
Global News edited the one-minute 37-second witness video to show it side-by-side with the footage the Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS) released Tuesday.
In the moments before the cellphone footage begins, Bland can be heard off-screen screaming that Encinio is about to break her wrist as she struggles with him and a female officer, who arrived on the scene after the situation turned confrontational.
“When you pull away from me, you’re resisting arrest,” Encinio yelled at Bland.
“I hope that make you feel real good, a female for a traffic signal… I know that make you feel real good officer,” she screamed back as she struggled with the officer. “I know it make you feel real good, you’re a real man now. You just slam me, knock my head into the ground. I got epilepsy, you motherf***er.”
Encinia responded: “Good…”
Encinia moved away to open the door of the other officer’s police cruiser, but turns to tell the witness to stop taking video of the scene.
“You need to leave. You need to leave,” he tells the witness. The man holding the cellphone continues to record until after Encinia tells Bland she’s “going to jail for resisting arrest” and he and the other officer bring her to the back of the cruiser.
“I swear to god. All of this for a traffic signal,” Bland cried out. “Thank you for recording. Thank you… for a traffic signal. Slam me into the ground and everything.” At that point, the cellphone video cuts off.
Encinia then says his fellow officer “saw everything.” Bland can be heard in the dashcam video refuting that claim.
But later in that same TDPS video, as Encinia begins to search Bland’s car, a third officer on the scene said: “But one thing’s for sure, it’s on video.”
While the 52-minute TDPS video released Tuesday shows what led up to the use of force in Bland’s arrest, it hasn’t eased skepticism about the circumstances surrounding her death and it certainly hasn’t helped clear 30-year-old Encinia of mishandling the situation. In fact, it shows his original version of the events did not tell the whole story — including that he drew his Taser, pointed at Bland and said, “I will light you up” when she refused to get out of her car. The arrest warrant made no mention of Encinia pulling out his Taser.
Encinia was placed on administrative leave last week as authorities investigated Bland’s death.
Although Encinia’s interaction with Bland started off civil, the TDPS video shows him becoming increasingly aggressive as she expresses her irritation at being pulled over and her refusing to put out a cigarette.
TDPS Director Steve McCraw said the officer did not follow procedures in his handling of the situation.
“Regardless of the situation, it doesn’t matter where it happens, a TDPS state trooper has got an obligation to exhibit professionalism and be courteous … and that wasn’t the case in this situation,” McCraw said.