- A newly released video shot by Sandra Bland herself shows in greater detail the combative exchange with a Texas state trooper that ended in her arrest.
- Bland died in a Waller County jail cell three days after the confrontation, prompting criticism of the Texas Department of Public Safety and fueling the Black Lives Matter movement.
- Bland’s family says they had never seen the footage until now, and are calling on prosecutors to reopen the criminal case against Trooper Brian Encinia, who had previously been charged with perjury.
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Nearly four years ago, an enraged Texas state trooper opened Sandra Bland’s car door, pointed a stun gun at her face, and screamed at her to “get out of the car! Now!”
A newly released 39-second video shot by Bland herself captured the exchange and shed further light on the combative traffic stop, which began with Bland’s failure to signal a lane-change and ended three days later with her death in a Waller County jail cell.
Bland’s 2015 death was ruled a suicide, and sparked nationwide outrage against Texas authorities’ decision to jail a woman over a traffic stop. The incident helped fuel the Black Lives Matter movement and prompted criticism of the Texas Department of Public Safety’s relationship with black communities.
Now, Bland’s family and their lawyers say the newly unearthed footage, which was published Monday by the Dallas news outlet WFAA, proves the Texas state trooper had no reason to fear for his safety when he pulled Bland over.
Read more: Texas officer violated multiple rules pulling over a woman who ended up dead in her jail cell
Trooper Brian Encinia had told Texas DPS officials that his “safety was in jeopardy at more than one time” during the stop. A lawyer for the Bland family, Cannon Lambert, told news outlets that Bland’s footage shows that was impossible.
“What the video shows is that Encinia had no reason to be in fear of his safety,” Lambert told The New York Times. “The video shows that he wasn’t in fear of his safety. You could see that it was a cellphone, he was looking right at it.”
A spokesperson for the Texas DPS told INSIDER in a statement that the cellphone video “is not newly discovered evidence.”
The department said that the recording was “specifically identified multiple times” in an investigative report that was “made available to all the litigants” after Bland’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the department. The department settled the suit for $1.9 million.
“The video is not newly discovered and has in no way been concealed by the department,” the spokesperson said.
Though Texas authorities had previously released dashboard camera footage of the entire incident, Bland’s cellphone footage shows in greater detail the exchange that occurred when Bland was still in her car, and shows she was visibly holding her phone and directing it at Encinia for part of their confrontation.
Encinia was originally indicted by a grand jury on one count of perjury, because he allegedly made a false statement that he had removed Bland from her car so he could safely conduct a traffic investigation. Encinia pleaded not guilty, and the charge was dropped after he promised prosecutors he would never again work a law-enforcement job.
But with the new footage, Bland’s family is now demanding that prosecutors reopen a criminal case against Encinia.
“Open up the case, period,” Bland’s sister Shante Needham told WFAA. She added that the Texas DPS has “an extremely, extremely good cover-up system.”
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