In Texas, authorities have released police dashboard camera footage that shows the arrest of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old African-American woman who was found dead in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas, last week after a traffic stop for not signaling a lane change. Authorities have said her death was a suicide, a claim that her friends and family have disputed. The arrest video shows Trooper Brian Encinia threatening to “light [Bland] up” after she questions his order for her to put out her cigarette while she was smoking in her own car. Previously released footage shot by a bystander shows Bland accusing police of slamming her head into the ground and saying, “I can’t even hear.” Texas state Senator Royce West told reporters that the newly released dash cam footage shows that Bland should never have been arrested in the first place.
AMY GOODMAN: And in Texas, newly released dash cam footage shows the arrest of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old African-American woman who was found dead in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas, last week after a traffic stop for not signaling a lane change. County authorities have said her death was a suicide, a claim her friends and family have disputed. In the arrest video, Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia approaches the driver’s side of Bland’s car and asks her why she appears to be irritated.
TROOPER BRIAN ENCINIA: You OK?
SANDRA BLAND: I’m waiting on you. This is your job. I’m waiting on you. What do you want me to say?
TROOPER BRIAN ENCINIA: You seem very irritated.
SANDRA BLAND: I am. I really am, because I feel like it’s crap, what I’m getting a ticket for. I was getting out of your way. You were speeding up, tailing me, so I move over, and you stop me. So, yeah, I am a little irritated, but that doesn’t stop you from giving me a ticket, so.
TROOPER BRIAN ENCINIA: Are you done?
SANDRA BLAND: You asked me what was wrong, and I told you.
TROOPER BRIAN ENCINIA: OK.
SANDRA BLAND: So now I’m done, yeah.
TROOPER BRIAN ENCINIA: OK. You mind putting out your cigarette, please?
SANDRA BLAND: I’m in my car. Why do I have to put out my cigarette?
TROOPER BRIAN ENCINIA: Well, you can step on out now.
SANDRA BLAND: I don’t have to step out of my car.
TROOPER BRIAN ENCINIA: Step out of the car.
AMY GOODMAN: In the video, Officer Encinia then threatens to “light [her] up.”
TROOPER BRIAN ENCINIA: I’m giving you a lawful order. I am going to drag you out of there.
SANDRA BLAND: You opened my car door. So you’re threatening to drag me out of my own car?
TROOPER BRIAN ENCINIA: Get out of the car!
SANDRA BLAND: And then you’re going to assault me? Wow.
TROOPER BRIAN ENCINIA: I will light you up! Get out! Now!
AMY GOODMAN: In a later section of the video, which previously came to light after it was filmed by a bystander, Bland accuses police of slamming her head to the ground, and says, quote, “I can’t even hear.” She also tells Trooper Encinia she has epilepsy, and he replies, “Good.” Some have claimed the dash cam footage released by authorities appears to have been edited.
Three days after her arrest, Sandra Bland was found dead in her jail cell. Trooper Encinia has been placed on administrative duty, desk duty, for the duration of the investigation into Sandra Bland’s death, which the Waller County District Attorney’s Office is treating, quote, “like a murder investigation,” unquote. On Tuesday, Texas state Senator Royce West told reporters the newly released dash cam footage shows Bland should never have been arrested in the first place.
Meanwhile, at Sandra Bland’s memorial service Tuesday, her mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, spoke about the death of her daughter.
GENEVA REED-VEAL: Let’s be for real. That was my baby. She wasn’t my convict. She wasn’t the suspect. She was my baby. And it would behoove y’all to think about what you all were doing at her age. So some of the stuff that’s in the news is true, some of the stuff that’s in the news is not. But the real issue here is something occurred that is going to change the world.
AMY GOODMAN: Sandra Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal. The funeral is Saturday in [Lisle, Illinois]. And those are some of the headlines. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.