Texas trooper Brian Encinia has pleaded not guilty to charges of misdemeanor perjury related to his arrest of Sandra Bland, a black woman who was found dead in jail under hotly disputed circumstances. Encinia appeared briefly in a packed court on Tuesday as protesters gathered outside, shouting, “Tell the truth” and “Sandra still speaks.” A county grand jury indicted Encinia in January on the basis of evidence suggesting he lied about the circumstances in which Bland exited her car during a traffic stop. Encinia claimed in an affidavit that he had removed a belligerent Bland from her vehicle so he could safely proceed with his investigation.
In July of 2015, Bland was stopped by Encinia for failing to properly signal a lane change. The arrest, which was captured on a dashcam, quickly turned violent; footage of the traffic stop shows Encinia telling Bland that he will “light [her] up” with his stun gun, and Bland can later be heard screaming that Encinia had slammed her head onto the ground. Bland was found hanging from her jail cell three days after the arrest, a plastic bag wrapped around her neck. Her arrest and death drew the attention of the Black Lives Matter movement, and sparked discussions about police brutality.
Supporters of the Bland family have expressed displeasure over the fact that Encino has not been charged with assault and false arrest. “He should have been charged with so much more,” Cannon Lambert, the Bland family attorney, told The Guardian in January. “You can’t charge someone in the most minimal way and expect the family to feel justice has been served.”
Read the full story at The Guardian.