Video not al­tered: of­fi­cials

Con­tro­versy still sur­rounds woman’s death in jail cell

Cape Breton Post - - NEWS - HEMP­STEAD, TEXAS

Author­i­ties in the U.S. say a pa­trol car video show­ing the ar­rest of black mo­torist, who was later found dead in a jail cell, was not edited or ma­nip­u­lated.

The death of 28-year-old San­dra Bland, three days af­ter she was ar­rested by a white law en­force­ment of­fi­cer dur­ing a heated con­fronta­tion over a mi­nor traf­fic in­frac­tion, is the latest case to cast na­tional at­ten­tion on the in­ter­ac­tions be­tween po­lice and mi­nori­ties in the United States.

Of­fi­cials say Bland hanged her­self with a plas­tic garbage bag in her jail cell, a con­tention her fam­ily and sup­port­ers dis­pute. The video doesn’t re­veal what hap­pened while she was in cus­tody, but it de­picts an emo­tional ex­change in which the of­fi­cer tried to drag Bland from her car, drew his stun gun and threat­ened her. The case has res­onated on so­cial media, with posts ques­tion­ing the of­fi­cial ac­count of the events.

The video posted by the Texas Depart­ment of Public Safety Tues­day shows the trooper stop­ping Bland for fail­ure to sig­nal a lane change.

The con­ver­sa­tion turns hos­tile when the of­fi­cer asks Bland to put out her cig­a­rette and she asks why she can’t smoke in her own car. The trooper then or­ders Bland to get out of the ve­hi­cle. When she re­fuses, the of­fi­cer pulls what ap­pears to be a weapon and says, “I will light you up.”

Out of the cam­era’s view, Bland con­tin­ues protest­ing her ar­rest, re­peat­edly us­ing ex­ple­tives and call­ing the of­fi­cer a “pussy.” At one point, she screams that he’s about to break her wrists and com­plains that he knocked her head into the ground.

The video has drawn crit­i­cism for gaps and over­laps, but the Texas Depart­ment of Public Safety in­sisted Wed­nes­day that it had not been doc­tored.

DPS spokesman Tom Vinger told The As­so­ci­ated Press that glitches in the record­ing oc­curred when it was up­loaded for public view­ing.

Bland’s fam­ily sched­uled an af­ter­noon news con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day to dis­cuss the video.

In an af­fi­davit re­leased Tues­day, the trooper, Brian Encinia, said he used force “to sub­due Bland to the ground,” and she con­tin­ued to fight back. He also said Bland swung her el­bows at him and kicked him in his right shin.

Encinia has been placed on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave.

“Re­gard­less of the sit­u­a­tion, it doesn’t mat­ter where it hap­pens, a DPS state trooper has got an obli­ga­tion to ex­hibit pro­fes­sion­al­ism and be cour­te­ous ... and that wasn’t the case in this sit­u­a­tion,” said Steven McCraw, the depart­ment di­rec­tor. Bland was taken to a jail about 100 kilo­me­tres north­west of Hous­ton on July 10 and found dead July 13.

Her body has been flown back to Chicago in prepa­ra­tion for a fu­neral on Satur­day, the fam­ily’s at­tor­ney said Wed­nes­day.

Although a med­i­cal ex­am­iner has ruled Bland’s death a sui­cide, sup­port­ers in­sist she was up­beat and look­ing for­ward to a new job at a lo­cal univer­sity.

Bland’s fam­ily and clergy mem­bers have called for a fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion. How­ever, Bland posted a video to her Face­book page in March, say­ing she was suf­fer­ing from “a lit­tle bit of de­pres­sion” and post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der. Fam­ily mem­bers have said noth­ing in her back­ground sug­gested she was men­tally trou­bled, and at least one friend said she was just vent­ing af­ter a bad day.

AP PHOTO In this July 10, 2015, frame from dash­cam video pro­vided by the Texas Depart­ment of Public Safety, a heated con­fronta­tion be­tween trooper Brian Encinia leads to the ar­rest of San­dra Bland af­ter a mi­nor traf­fic in­frac­tion. Bland was taken to the Waller County Jail that day and was found dead in her cell on July 13.

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