Video not altered: officials
Controversy still surrounds woman’s death in jail cell
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.
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.