WATCH ABOVE: A segment of the dashcam footage from Sandra Bland’s traffic stop shows the officer pull her over for failing to signal.
Shortly after the police dashcam video of Sandra Bland‘s July 10 arrest appeared online, independent journalist Ben Norton posted a claim on his website the footage “was edited.”
“The Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS) uploaded dashcam police video of the arrest to YouTube on 21 July. Parts of the approximately 52 minutes of footage it uploaded appear to have been doctored,” Norton wrote.
The allegation was echoed by Ava DuVernay, director of the civil rights film Selma.
“I edit footage for a living. But anyone can see that this official video has been cut,” she said in a Twitter post, sharing a link to Norton’s website.
Texas state trooper Brian Encinia pulled Bland’s car over after she failed to signal a lane change, but the situation turned confrontational after Bland refused to exit the vehicle and demanded to know why she was being ordered to do so.
Encinia fought to restrain the 28-year-old woman, who had just moved to Texas from Chicago to start a job at Prairie View A&M, but eventually got her into the back of a police cruiser with the help of another officer.
Bland was taken to a jail about 100 kilometres northwest of Houston on July 10 and found dead July 13. Police say she hanged herself in her jail cell with a plastic bag, but federal authorities are investigating her death.
The video doesn’t reveal what happened while she was in custody, but it depicts the emotional exchange in which the officer tried to drag Bland from her car, drew his stun gun and threatened her.
“I will light you up,” Encinia yelled at Bland as he demanded she get out of her car.
Amid the controversy surrounding her death and outrage over yet another in a series of incidents involving white police officers using force against black men and women, doubts circulated on social media about the official account of Bland’s last days and the authenticity of the dashcam video.
Norton’s claims of the video being altered stem from apparent blips and repeated footage later on in the dashcam video — after Bland was already detained.
He noted the appearance of a man walking away from the tow truck in front of Bland’s car starting at the 25:05 mark and the same sequence looping back to begin again at the 25:19 mark.
He also pointed to a white car appearing then “suddenly disappearing.”
That happens at the 32:38 mark, but the video appears to loop and the car reappears before making a left turn. A similar blip happens at the 33:06 mark.
(Click through the gallery below to see still from the video.)
The Texas Tribune asked TDPS if the video was edited. Spokesperson Tom Vinger said, in a statement, the video “has not been edited” and the TDPS had asked the FBI to “ensure the integrity of the video.”
But he explained the footage had been “affected in the upload” and the TDPS is “working to repost the dashcam video.”
With files from The Associated Press