Dash cam video of the arrest of Sandra Bland — the 28-year-old whose hanging death in a Waller County, Texas, jail cell is currently being investigated as a murder — was released Tuesday.
Beginning at the 2:15 mark, the video shows that, after being pulled over by a state trooper for a routine traffic violation, Bland became irritated when asked to put out her cigarette by arresting officer Brian Encinia.
“Why do I have to put out a cigarette when I’m in my own car?” Bland says in the video. The trooper then becomes angry with Bland, telling her to exit the vehicle and then attempts to force her out of the car. When Bland reaches for her cell phone to record the tense encounter, the officer threatens to tase her, saying “I will light you up.”
The officer refuses to answer Bland’s questions concerning why she is being arrested, yelling at her as she repeatedly tells him “he is about to break her wrist.” At one point Bland starts sobbing after being “slammed to the ground.” Later Officer Encinia can be heard telling a bystander filming the event that they “need to leave.”
Nowhere in the video does it show Bland assaulting the officer, which police had previously stated was the reason for her arrest.
The release of the video coincided with a press conference that followed a private meeting attended by Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Texas State Senator Royce West, and NAACP representatives, which ran far longer than had been expected.
Senator Royce West addressed the press before the release of the video, telling them in his opinion, Bland did not deserve to be taken into custody, referring to it as a “quote unquote arrest.” He also said that Bland bore no responsibility in her death. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said that that was yet to be determined by the investigation. All parties assembled agreed that there were concerns and questions about what transpired during the arrest.
Elton Mathis, Waller County’s district attorney, stated in a press conference Monday that the video shows Bland to be “non-compliant” and not a “model person” after being pulled over, but having a bad attitude isn’t in and of itself justification for an arrest. Police are expected and paid to handle such situations in a manner that does not escalate tensions, and the state trooper failed in that regard; as previously reported, he’s been placed on desk duty for violating “the department’s procedures regarding traffic stops and the department’s courtesy policy” in Bland’s arrest.
Bland’s family and friends are currently waiting for the results of an independent autopsy, which District Attorney Mathis said may be delayed by one to two weeks by toxicology reports.