Texas fires trooper after he's charged with perjury in Sandra Bland traffic stop

HEMPSTEAD, Texas -- A Texas state trooper who arrested Sandra Bland after a contentious traffic stop last summer was fired Wednesday after being charged with perjury for allegedly lying about his confrontation with the black woman who died three days later in jail.

See Full Article

Trooper Brian Encinia claimed in an affidavit that Bland was "combative and unco-operative" after he pulled her over and ordered her out of her car. The grand jury identified that affidavit in charging Encinia with perjury, special prosecutor Shawn McDonald said Wednesday night.

Hours after the indictment, the Texas Department of Public Safety said it would "begin termination proceedings" against Encinia, who has been paid desk duty since Bland was found dead in her cell.

Bland's arrest and death -- which authorities ruled a suicide -- provoked national outrage and drew the attention of the Black Lives Matter movement. Protesters linked Bland to other black suspects who were killed in confrontations with police or died in police custody, including Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Freddie Gray in Baltimore.

Video of the stop shows Encinia drawing his stun gun and telling Bland, "I will light you up!" She can later be heard off-camera screaming that he's about to break her wrists and complaining that he knocked her head into the ground.

Encinia's affidavit stated he "removed her from her vehicle to further conduct a safer traffic investigation," but grand jurors "found that statement to be false," said McDonald, one of five special prosecutors appointed to investigate.

She was taken to the Waller County jail in Hempstead, about 50 miles northwest of Houston. Three days later, she was found hanging from a jail cell partition with a plastic garbage bag around her neck. The grand jury has already declined to charge any sheriff's officials or jailers in her death.

The perjury charge is a misdemeanour that carries a maximum of one year in jail and a $4,000 fine. Encinia was not immediately taken into custody, and an arraignment date has not yet been announced.

About two dozen protesters attended Wednesday's news conference where the indictment was announced. One protester's sign read, "Legalize black skin."

Speaking afterward, one protester, Jinaki Muhammad, called the misdemeanour charge "a slap in the face to the Bland family."

Encinia also faces a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Bland's family. Attorneys for Bland's family did not immediately returned messages seeking comment about the indictment.

Encinia pulled Bland over on July 10 for making an improper lane change near Prairie View A&M University, her alma mater, where she had just interviewed and accepted a job. Dashcam video from Encinia's patrol car shows that the traffic stop quickly became confrontational.

The video shows the trooper holding a stun gun and yelling, "I will light you up!" after Bland refuses to get out of her car. Bland eventually steps out of the vehicle, and Encinia orders her to the side of the road. The confrontation continues off-camera but is still audible.

Encinia wrote in his affidavit that he had Bland exit the vehicle and handcuffed her after she became combative, and that she swung her elbows at him and kicked him in his right shin. Encinia said he then used force "to subdue Bland to the ground," and she continued to fight back. He arrested her for assault on a public servant.

Bland's sister, Shante Needham, has said Bland called her from jail the day after her arrest, saying she'd been arrested but didn't know why, and that an officer had placed his knee in her back and injured her arm.

Her family has said they were working to get money for her bail when they learned of her death.

------

Associated Press writer Nomaan Merchant in Dallas contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Recovery and reconstruction go slowly after Mexico quake

    World News CTV News
    MEXICO CITY - Wearing a hardhat, Rodrigo Diaz Mejia steps onto the hood of a crushed car and then gingerly into an apartment cracked open by the Sept. 19 earthquake. Inside he spots a photo of two young boys hanging on a wall spider-webbed with deep cracks. Source
  • China offers conflicting goals as Xi Jinping looks to extend rule

    World News CTV News
    BEIJING - China's ruling Communist Party is expanding its role in business even as it promises freer markets and support for entrepreneurs on the eve of President Xi Jinping's second five-year term as leader. Party officials are tightening their control over state-owned enterprises and want a voice in how some foreign companies are run. Source
  • Texas man’s execution halted amid alleged confession scheme

    World News Toronto Sun
    HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A man who became known as Houston’s “Tourniquet Killer” because of his signature murder technique on four female victims was set for execution Wednesday evening. Anthony Allen Shore confessed to the four slayings after a tiny particle collected from under the fingernail of a 21-year-old murder victim was matched to his DNA. Source
  • Explosion at Indian fireworks factory kills 8

    World News CTV News
    NEW DELHI - An explosion at an unlicensed firecracker factory killed eight workers and injured 20 other people in eastern India as Hindus celebrated their most popular Diwali festival, police said Thursday. A police officer said rescuers cleared debris of the collapsed building in a town in Balasore district in Orissa state on Thursday morning. Source
  • Jury asked to decide if injury that left Paralympian a quadriplegic was from unsafe pool

    Canada News CTV News
    REGINA - A jury in Saskatchewan is being asked to decide whether an injury that left a Paralympian a quadriplegic was a tragic accident or because of an unsafe pool. Miranda Biletski is suing the University of Regina for negligence. Source
  • Prized $50,000 rodeo horse hit and killed after being let loose: RCMP

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    The Mounties were investigating after a prized horse that appeared in Canada's biggest rodeos was hit and killed on a highway near Bonnyville, shortly after a herd was intentionally released from a livestock pen. Early Tuesday, someone opened a gate on a property south of Muriel Lake, RCMP said in a news release. Source
  • Wainwright soldier pleads not guilty to online luring, child porn

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    A Wainwright-based soldier has entered not-guilty pleas to charges related to online luring and child porn. Steven Massey, 32, was arrested and charged in June after a joint investigation by the province's Internet Child Exploitation Unit and U.S. Source
  • Magnitsky human rights law, protections for journalists' sources get royal assent

    Canada News CBC News
    Two private member's bills, one protecting journalists' sources and another that allows Canada to get tough on human rights abusers, received royal assent Wednesday. One of those laws is the so-called Magnitsky Act, the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act or Bill S-226. Source
  • Catalonia to press ahead with independence if Spain imposes direct rule

    World News CBC News
    Spain's political showdown with Catalonia is set to reach a new level on Thursday when political leaders in Madrid and Barcelona are expected to make good on pledges made to their supporters to stick to their tough positions over the region's future. Source
  • 'I felt a burning sensation': Hotel guard describes getting shot before Las Vegas massacre

    World News CBC News
    The gunman who unleashed the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history first wounded an unsuspecting hotel security guard in a hallway who promptly radioed for help, according to a TV interview broadcast Wednesday with the guard and a hotel building engineer whose life he is credited with saving. Source