Texas authorities have released dash-cam footage showing a white
police officer, during a routine traffic stop, argue with and arrest an
unarmed black woman who later died in jail. ‘Suicide’ three days later of black woman arrested after routine traffic stop in Texas once again puts spotlight on US police.
The death of Sandra
Bland, 28, is being investigated as possibly suspicious, after
authorities initially called her death on July 13 in Waller County jail
an apparent suicide.
Bland’s family have challenged the suicide
diagnosis and Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said he was
opening a murder investigation.
Bland was found dead in her cell
on July 13, where police Captain Brian Cantrell said she had hanged
herself with a plastic garbage bag.
Her family insisted she had
travelled to Texas to start a new job at Prairie View A&M
University, where she graduated in 2009. She was upbeat and anything but
suicidal, they said.
Bland’s death puts the spotlight anew on US police behaviour and brutality against black suspects.
A major complaint is how police often stop black drivers for
minor traffic violations that end in injury and death. In the recording
from July 10 taken from the camera mounted on the dashboard of the
police car in Hempstead, Texas, Bland is pulled over for failing to
signal she was changing lanes.
Texas Ranger Brian Encinia takes
Bland’s driver’s licence back to his cruiser, walks back to her car,
leans into her window, and says: “OK, Mam, are you OK?”
“This is your job,” Bland says.
“You seem irritated,” Encinia says.
“I am a little irritated, but that doesn’t stop you from giving me a ticket,” Bland says.
when Encinia asks Bland to “please” put out her cigarette, she objects.
“I’m in my car. Why do I have to put out my cigarette?” she asks.
“Well, you can step out now,” Encinia demands. She objects, and Encinia repeatedly demands she step out or he will yank her out.
“Don’t touch me. I’m not under arrest,” Bland says.
out of the car,” Encinia shouts repeatedly. “I will light you up.” The
altercation escalates with curse words from Bland and shouts from
Encinia. Finally, Encinia pulls Bland out of the car and knocks her
while she is on the ground, according to a video taken by a bystander
who is chased away by police.
Many of those who saw the footage
were incensed, including Texas state senator Royce West, who declared
that Bland did not deserve to be taken into custody.
see that video, I think you will agree with me that Sandra Bland did not
deserve to be arrested,” he said after meeting Bland’s family.
West said he concluded she had been threatened with a Taser after he reviewed the video, the Washington Post reported.
Three days after the arrest, Bland was found dead in her jail cell.
Attorney Mathis said that Bland’s family had made a “valid point” that
she had a lot of things going on in her life that were good.
Encinia has been put on desk duty pending a full investigation, the Texas Department of Public Safety said.