Sandra Bland Dash Cam Video Released
Newly released dash cam footage shows Sandra Bland being forced out of her car during the traffic stop that led to her arrest and incarceration at the Waller County Jail, where authorities say Bland's body was discovered hanging in her cell on the morning of July 13.
At around the 9:30 mark in the video, the officer tells Bland to get out of the car.
"You do not have the right to do that," Bland can be heard on the dash cam saying to the officer.
"I am going to drag you out of here," the officer replied. Then he pointed what appeared to be a taser at her. "Get out of the car. I will light you up."
"Oh, I cannot wait until we go to court," Bland said as she stepped out of the car. "All this for failure to signal? I cannot wait until we go court."
An affidavit released by the Waller County District Attorney's office earlier this afternoon alleges that Bland was "combative and uncooperative" after she was pulled over for an illegal lane change. However, the Texas Department of Public Safety has put the trooper who wrote the affidavit on administrative leave for violating department policies during the traffic stop. From the video, it appears things escalated quickly between the trooper and Bland.
"What's wrong?" the trooper asked as he delivered Bland her ticket. "You seem very irritated."
"I really am, because I feel like it's crap for what I'm getting a ticket for," Bland said. "I was getting out of your way. You were speeding and tailing me, so I move over and you stop me. So yeah, I am a little irritated."
"Are you done?" the trooper said.
"You asked me what was wrong and I told you," Bland said.
"OK," the officer said. "You mind putting out your cigarette please?"
"I'm in my car, why do I have to put out my cigarette?"
"Well," the officer said, "you can step out now."
"I don't have to," Bland said.
As Bland's family members continue to question whether her death was really a suicide, Sandra Bland has become the latest name added to the national #BlackLivesMatter movement protesting the deaths of African-Americans in police custody, along with Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, and Freddie Gray— all of whom were either killed by police or died while in custody.
Texas State Senator Royce West was among a group of elected officials, including Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who met with members of multiple law enforcement agencies for two hours prior to the press conference to see the video and discuss the status of the investigations into Bland's death. West says the video shows that Bland did not deserve to be arrested and bears no responsibility for what happened.
In the DPS affidavit released by the Waller County District Attorney's office Tuesday afternoon, trooper Brian Encinia wrote in a short statement that he was on patrol on July 10 when, at around 4:30 p.m., he pulled over Bland's silver Hyundai near Prairie View A&M University for making a lane change without signaling. He identified Bland as its driver, then had her "exit the vehicle to further conduct a safe traffic investigation" when Bland "became combative and uncooperative" and refused to leave her car, according to the affidavit.
Encinia wrote that Bland then "was removed" from the car, but became "more combative," and he put her in handcuffs. Then Bland began swinging her elbows and kicked Encinia in the shin, and "force was used to subdue Bland to the ground" as she continued to "fight back." She was arrested for Assault on a Public Servant, transported to Waller County Jail, and held there on $5,000 bond. Three days later, she was found dead in her cell. Officials say she hanged herself with a plastic garbage bag.
Today's dash cam video sheds more light on Bland's final days. Until today, the only other video account of her arrest was shot by a bystander that posted the video to YouTube, capturing Bland pinned to the ground and shouting, "You just slammed my head into the ground. Do you not even care about that? I can't hear."
On Monday Waller County released three hours of footage showing the outside of Bland's cell the from morning she was found dead. We were told today that they are having "software issues" and could not provide us the video, but The Guardian has it edited down to the important bits and you can watch it there. It shows prison staff surrounding Bland's cell as emergency medical technicians slowly carry in a stretcher, but it does not show the inside of the cell.
The Texas Rangers and FBI are investigating Bland's death, and DPS is investigating the traffic stop. In the press conference, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said his office's investigation is continuing. Last week, we reported the Texas Commission on Jail Standards cited Waller County Jail for substandard training in how to handle potentially suicidal inmates.
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In the press conference, West also said that he has asked that the grand jury that will eventually hear Bland's case be ethnically diverse.
"We want to make certain that there is transparency," West said. "We want to make sure no stone is left un-turned."
Here is more of the video, transcribed, after the officer first asked Bland to step out:
"You do not have the right to do that," Bland says.
"I do have the right, now step out or I will remove you," the officer says.
"I am getting removed for a failure to signal?"
"I am giving you a lawful order. Get outta the car now."
"I'm calling my lawyer."
"I'm gonna yank you out of here," the officer said, while leaning over and reaching into the car.
"Don't touch me! I'm not under arrest," Bland says.
"You are under arrest," the officer says.
"For what? For what?"
There's a pause. The officer does not answer.
"Get out of the car, now!"
Bland walks out of the car and around the back, as directed by the officer. The rest takes place off camera, though you can hear what's going on.
"You feeling good about yourself?" she says. "You feel good about yourself? Why will you not tell me what's going on? Ya'll bitch asses scared. That's it."
Then there is a shuffling sound, and Bland screams, "You're about to fucking break my wrist!"
Then Bland screams.
"Stop... moving... now!" the officer shouts. "Stop it!"
Bland begins to cry. Through sobs, she says, "For a traffic signal... for a fucking traffic signal. I can't feel my arm."
"You're going to jail," the officer says. "For resisting arrest."
Here's the affidavit: