Ms. Sandra Bland, before her passing, was a victim of police misconduct and harassment.
How Ms. Sandra Bland died and what her exact time of death was is still an open inquiry, but new footage released from the arresting officer’s dashboard camera shows exactly how Ms. Bland, a 28 year-old activist who traveled to Texas from Illinois to start a new job at her alma mater, ended up in police custody.
Texas Trooper Brian Encinia, who moments before encountering Ms. Bland had pulled over another driver for what appears to have been a case of speeding, stopped Ms. Bland for improperly signaling a lane change.
Ms. Bland was cooperative, though audibly annoyed, with Trooper Encinia up and until he asked her to extinguish her cigarette, which she refused. Her defiance caused a shift in Trooper Encinia’s disposition. He ordered her to exit the vehicle. She again refused orders at which point Trooper Encinia opened the driver’s side door and repeated his demand.
Aware of her rights, Ms. Bland told the aggressive lawman that she refused to talk to him other than to identify herself.
“I’m going to yank you out of the car,” Trooper Encinia told her seconds before pulling out his Taser, pointing it at Ms. Bland and stating “I will light you up!”
Ms. Bland conceded her power, I assume out of fear for her life, though she did, with expletives, vocalize her discontent for the “routine” traffic stop.
Waller County District Attorney, Mr. Elton Mathis, said of this case that “this wasn’t a model traffic stop” and it was not a model person that was stopped on a traffic stop.” He also said, quoting Trooper Encinia’s remarks on Ms. Bland’s arrest report, that she was “combative and uncooperative.”
Noticeably absent from Mr. Mathis’ observations and critiques is the fact that Trooper Encinia was no model officer and that he, given the fact Ms. Bland was ignored by him multiple times when she asked why she was being removed from her vehicle and placed in handcuffs, was combative and uncooperative, too.
Trooper Encinia took no measures to de-escalate the situation when he observed that Ms. Bland was frustrated with the traffic stop. In fact, it could be argued that Trooper Encinia exacerbated the tensions, especially when, after asking Ms. Bland a question and allowing her respond, he said, in a snide way, “Are you done?”
It has been noted that Trooper Enicinia is on desk duty as his superiors have confirmed he violated numerous policies, including the department’s courtesy policy.
Whether Ms. Bland died of a jail house murder or a tragic suicide is still to be determined. However, it’s reasonable to assert that if Ms. Bland, who family and friends say was optimistic about life, was not the victim of a false arrest, than she wouldn’t have died in a jail cell, regardless of the how, thus making Trooper Enicinia, following the law of causation, responsible to a degree.
His behavior and demeanor during last Friday’s traffic stop was unacceptable and swift discipline and justice should be enacted on behalf of Ms. Bland.
Police leaders nationwide should have their officers watch the dashboard footage of Ms. Bland’s arrest and inform them this type of behavior, this level of assertiveness over citizens for minor infractions, is not okay and will be strongly condemned by superiors.
This should be a learning moment for police officials everywhere. There’s a reason Black people – more so maybe than any other race – fear “routine” traffic stops. And the answer for mitigation is not for citizens to just comply when their rights are being violated.
Ms. Bland’s civil rights were violated before her passing and that shouldn’t be… it can’t be overlooked because there was nothing routine about her traffic stop, and too many African-Americans are losing their lives everyday in situations like Ms. Bland’s.
American policing needs a change of culture.
*Tune into 900amWURD or 900amWURD.com every Friday evening during the 6 o’clock hour to hear me relive #TheWeekThatWas*
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™