Democratic Candidates Call For Sandra Bland Case To Be Reopened

Five Democratic 2020 candidates said video of the 2015 arrest days before the woman was found dead in a cell warrants a new look at the case.

After Tuesday’s release of previously undisclosed footage of Sandra Bland’s 2015 traffic stop in Texas, several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are calling for authorities to reopen the investigation into the 28-year-old African American’s arrest and death.

Bland was found hanged in a jail cell three days after she was arrested in Prairie View, Texas, during a traffic stop and charged with suspicion of assaulting a public servant. Her death was ruled a suicide. 

Investigators found video of the traffic stop on Bland’s cellphone two months after her death but reportedly never disclosed its existence to the public. Dallas TV station WFAA, in partnership with the nonprofit Investigative Network, this week unearthed the video, which appears to show a white state trooper threatening Bland with a stun gun after pulling her over for failing to signal a lane change.

“Get out of the car!” Trooper Brian Encinia shouts at Bland as he points a Taser toward her in the video. “I will light you up. Get out. Now.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Wednesday said Bland and her family “deserve justice.”

“Black lives matter,” Warren said in a statement to HuffPost. “The investigation into Sandra Bland’s arrest and death must be re-opened. Sandra, her loved ones, and the American people deserve justice.”

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), former Obama housing chief Julian Castro (D) and Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) of South Bend, Indiana, had previously joined Bland’s family in calling for the investigation into the woman’s arrest and death to be reopened in the wake of the video’s release.

“Immediately re-open the investigation into Sandra Bland’s arrest and death,” O’Rourke tweeted on Tuesday. “There must be full accountability and justice.”


Castro tweeted that the cellphone video provides “compelling” evidence that the justification the state trooper offered for Bland’s death was “a flat out lie.”

“This video is compelling proof that Trooper Encinia lied, that Sandra Bland posed no threat, and that there was no basis for her arrest,” Castro wrote. “This case should be reopened and justice should finally be served.”

Buttigieg said the video sparks “new outrage” over Bland’s death.

“In the name of justice, the investigation into her arrest and death must be reopened,” he tweeted.

On Wednesday, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) joined the other candidates urging police to reopen the investigation.

“Sandra Bland should still be alive today,” Harris tweeted.

Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also tweeted about the footage without directly calling for Bland’s case to be reopened.

Booker said the video was “deeply unsetting” and called for “full transparency when it comes to police-community relations.”

“A routine traffic stop should never end this way,” the senator tweeted.

“Sandra Bland should be alive today,” Sanders tweeted.

He used the opportunity to appeal to voters by pledging to fix the “broken criminal justice system” if elected to the White House.

The 2020 campaigns of Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), as well as those of former Vice President Joe Biden (D) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s requests for comment.

This article has been updated with a statement from Sen. Elizabeth Warren and a tweet from Sen. Kamala Harris.