The officer who arrested Sandra Bland days before she was found dead in a Texas jail cell brandished a Taser during a traffic stop that turned violent.
The encounter between Bland, 28, and state trooper Brian Encinia quickly became contentious after he pulled her over on July 10 for allegedly failing to signal when she changed lanes. The Texas Department of Public Safety on Tuesday released a 52-minute video showing the traffic stop that led to Bland's arrest on a charge of assault on a public servant.
"You seem very irritated," Encinia can be heard saying in the video as he stands next to the driver-side window of Bland's car.
"I am. I really am," says Bland, a black woman from Chicago who expected to start a new job at Prairie View A&M University, near where she was arrested. "I was getting out of your way."
Encinia repeatedly orders Bland to exit her car after she refuses to put out a cigarette.
"I'm going to yank you out of here," he shouts as he leans into her open car door. "I will light you up," he says shortly afterward with his Taser in his hand.
"You're doing all this for a failure to signal," Bland tells him upon climbing out of her car. Much of what happens next occurs off camera, but their argument is clear.
"You're about to break my wrist," Bland says. She also complains that he slammed her head on the ground.
Encinia has said in an affidavit that Bland swung her elbows and kicked him when he put her in handcuffs.
She eventually was taken to the Waller County jail in Hempstead. On July 13, she was found hanged to death in her cell by a plastic garbage bag.
The Harris County Medical Examiner's office ruled that Bland's death was a suicide, but her family and friends don't believe it.
Emergency personnel carry a gurney near Sandra Bland's jail cell, at the Waller County jail in Hempstead, Texas.
Her death is being reviewed by the FBI and W County District Attorney Elton Mathis, who has said he is treating it like a homicide investigation.
Authorities have said Encinia violated protocol during the stop. He's been reassigned to a desk job until the investigation is complete.
About 23 minutes into the video, Encinia can be heard talking about the altercation to someone whose voice is inaudible.
“I tried talking to her, calming her down and that was not working,” he says.
He tells the person he's talking to that he used force against Bland because she was violent with him.
“I put you down because you kicked me,” he says he told her. He also debated whether to charge her with resisting arrest or with assault.
On Monday, authorities released surveillance footage of the corridor outside the cell where she was held. The video is uneventful until a guard reacts to looking inside Bland's cell.
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