Brian Encinia, the Texas state trooper who pulled over Sandra Bland, the black woman who died in a Texas county jail last summer, has been indicted on a perjury charge. A grand jury indicted him based on a statement he made following Bland’s arrest in July: “In the probable cause statement he stated that he withdrew Sandra Bland from the car to further the traffic stop investigation. The jury did not believe that,” special prosecutor Darrell Jordan said. A warrant for his arrest will now be issued, and if convicted, the charge could lead to a penalty of up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
Encinia had taken Bland into custody for assault after a routine traffic stop quickly escalated into a confrontation. Dashcam footage shows how Encinia reacts angrily when Bland lights up a cigarette, and a little later Bland can be heard complaining off-camera that she has been “slammed” to the ground. She was found dead in her cell three days after the arrest, in what the coroner ruled a suicide, which has been disputed by her family. Activists and Bland’s family have been calling for months for Encinia to be fired, and have expressed disappointment at the indictment which they see as a mere slap on the wrist. “He should have been charged with so much more,” Cannon Lambert, the Bland family’s attorney told The Guardian. He believes Encinia should have faced charges of assault, false arrest and abuse of police power. “You can’t charge someone in the most minimal way and expect the family to feel justice has been served,” he said. The state of Texas on Wednesday also reportedly initiated a termination process to relieve Encinia of his police duties.
Read the full story at The Guardian.