Tag: Texas Department of Public Safety

Texas Trooper Who Arrested Sandra Bland Indicted for Perjury by Grand Jury

Sandra Bland
About two dozen people demonstrate outside the Waller County Courthouse in Hempstead, Texas, where a grand jury reviewed the case of Sandra Bland.  (Michael Graczyk / Associated Press)

The Texas Department of Public Safety announced it would move to fire Trooper Brian T. Encinia.

The indictment marked the conclusion of the grand jury’s investigation of the case.

If convicted of the misdemeanor perjury charge, Encinia faces up to a year in jail, according to Warren Diepraam, a spokesman for the Waller County district attorney’s office. The grand jury declined to indict on a charge of aggravated perjury, Diepraam said.

Bland, 28, who was black, was found hanging by a plastic bag in her jail cell three days after she was arrested July 10 during a routine traffic stop about 55 miles west of Houston.

Encinia pulled over Bland for making an improper lane change. The confrontation that ensued, which led to Bland’s arrest on suspicion of assaulting Encinia, was captured on a dashboard camera video that went viral.

The charge against Encinia stemmed from a one-page probable cause affidavit that Encinia filed with jail officials justifying Bland’s arrest, in which he wrote that the reason he removed her from her car was to conduct a safer traffic investigation, said special prosecutor Shawn McDonald.

“The grand jury found that statement to be false,” McDonald said.

After she was arrested, Bland was taken to the Waller County Jail in nearby Hempstead, where she was unable to make $500 bail. Officials said Bland hanged herself with a plastic bag.

Bland’s family and Black Lives Matter supporters questioned why she had been arrested at all, with some asking whether she had taken her own life. At the time Bland was stopped, she had just accepted a job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University.

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Street Sandra Bland Stopped On Renamed in Her Honor

Prairie View City Council members in Texas are hoping a road renamed after activist Sandra Bland will serve as a constant reminder of the injustices they say she suffered in Waller County, USA Today reports.

City officials are also hopeful that the road, which leads to Bland’s alma mater, Prairie View A&M University, will also encourage law enforcement to make better choices and always follow best practices when making stops on University Drive, which will become Sandra Bland Parkway for three to five years before the council votes on the matter again.

“I am overwhelmed, and I am just truly thankful to the city of Prairie View,” Geneva Reed-Veal, Bland’s mother, said in a press conference here after the decision to rename the road.

“This is the first step, the very first step,” Reed-Veal said. “There’s still so much more that needs to be done.”

Bland, 28, was stopped on the same road July 10 for allegedly failing to signal a lane change. When Texas state Trooper Brian Encinia felt his power threatened by Bland’s wit and matter-of-fact tone, he arrested her on a charge of assaulting a public servant.

She was found hanging in her jail cell three days after her arrest, a death that has been ruled a suicide but is also being treated like a murder investigation. According to CNN, the Texas Rangers and the FBI are investigating Sandra’s death.

“It is very much too early to make any kind of determination that this was a suicide or a murder because the investigations are not complete,” Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis told reporters. “This is being treated like a murder investigation.”

Mathis said the case would go to a grand jury.

“There are too many questions that still need to be resolved. Ms. Bland’s family does make valid points that she did have a lot of things going on in her life that were good,” Mathis said.

Earlier this month, family members filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against arresting officer Encinia and two guards at the Waller County Jail where Bland died, along with the Texas Department of Public Safety and the county. The New York Times reports that the lawsuit states Encinia made up a reason to arrest Sandra and that jailers failed to react when she refused meals and “had bouts of uncontrollable crying.”

Bland’s family maintains that she never should have been stopped and arrested and they want the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate.

article via blackamericaweb.com

Sandra Bland’s Family Files Federal Lawsuit over Jail Cell Death

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Attorney Cannon Lambert Sr., left, and Geneva Reed-Veal, Sandra Bland’s mother, announce in Houston on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, the family’s lawsuit against those believed to be responsible for Bland’s July 13, 2015, death. (Photo: KHOU-TV, Houston)

HOUSTON — The family of Sandra Bland, the Illinois woman found dead in a Texas jail cell last month, filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Houston seeking to hold people involved in her death accountable.  “We are looking for Waller County and the individuals involved to take accountability,” said attorney Cannon Lambert Sr., who is representing the family.

The lawsuit is filed against Trooper Brian Encinia, the sheriff of Waller County, Texas, two of the jailers and the Texas Department of Public Safety, Lambert said.

Encinia arrested Bland on July 10 in Waller County, Texas. Three days later, on July 13, she was found dead in a jail cell in Hempstead, Texas. Officials say she used a plastic bag to hang herself.

Many of Bland’s family, friends and others on social media worldwide have questioned that explanation. They say she was about to start a new job at Prairie View A&M University, her alma mater.

The 28-year-old was pulled over for failing to signal while changing lanes. She was arrested for allegedly kicking Encinia during a traffic stop near Prairie View A&M. Dashcam video does not make clear whether or not that happened, but does show the encounter quickly escalating after Encinia tells Bland to put out her cigarette.

The trooper was put on desk duty for violating procedures during the stop.  “Mr. Encinia is still employed and it doesn’t make sense that the taxpayers are paying for the type of service that he employed on July 10,” Lambert said.

“This family needs an answer to the principle question of what happened to Sandra Bland. It’s why we filed suit,” he said.

The family would like the Department of Justice to investigate Bland’s death as they said the case requires a fresh set of eyes.  Last week, Waller County officials released hours of video of Bland inside the jail to try to disprove claims of foul play.

On July 22, police released a 52-minute long dash camera video from Encinia’s car. The clip showed Encinia yelling for Bland to get out of her car and demanding that she put her phone away.  “Step out, or I will remove you,” he said repeatedly, opening the driver’s door as she protested.

The release of the video raised questions on whether the video had been edited. The Texas Department of Public Safety disputed those claims, saying the “glitches” in the video came during the uploading process. The next day, the department released the video without the “glitches.”

“I watched the video once. I will not watch it again,” said Geneva Reed-Veal, Bland’s mother. She said watching the video she felt “anger, disgust, disappointment and sadness. I have chosen to channel those feelings in another way. … I am angry. Justice is going to be served if the justice system does what it’s supposed to do.”

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