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

  • Gunmen attack Coptic Christians in Egypt

    World News CBC News
    Gunmen attacked a bus carrying a group of Coptic Christians in Egypt on Friday, killing a number of them, eyewitnesses said. Early reports put the death toll between 10 and 23. The governor of Minya province, where the attack occurred, said another 25 had been injured. Source
  • Manchester tattoo parlours buzzing as people commemorate attack with ink

    World News CBC News
    The Mancunian bee: striped and winged, of course, and rather simply drawn in black ink. The worker bee has been the symbol of Manchester for nearly 200 years. This past week it was picked up and dusted off by a city racked with grief, becoming one of the most unexpected and potent symbols of defiance in the wake of the attack that shook this city to its core Monday, when 22 people, including several children, were killed by a suspected suicide bomber at a packed Ariana Grande concert. Source
  • 3 questions about Trump's push for a probe into Manchester leaks

    World News CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump has called leaks to U.S. media about the Manchester bombing investigation "deeply troubling" and vowed to find out what happened. Responding to British Prime Minister Theresa May's outrage over a New York Times story publishing forensic photos of the crime scene, Trump said the leaks were a "grave threat to our national security. Source
  • Free trade, climate among issues on Trudeau agenda at G7 summit in Italy

    World News CBC News
    Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada will champion the benefits of free trade and action on climate change at the G7 Summit in Taormina, Sicily, even as U.S. President Donald Trump tries to steer the world in another direction. Source
  • U.K. police arrest 9th man in concert bombing investigation

    World News CBC News
    British police investigating the Manchester Arena bombing have arrested a ninth man while continuing to search addresses associated with the bomber who killed 22 concert-goers. Eight other men are in custody in connection with Monday's atrocity, with police and security agencies working to prevent further attacks. Source
  • Philippines says foreigners among ISIS-linked gunmen fighting government troops

    World News CBC News
    Foreign fighters are among the militants linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group who are battling government troops in the southern Philippines, an official said Friday. Solicitor General Jose Calida said Indonesians and Malaysians are fighting alongside the gunmen who attacked Marawi, a city of some 200,000 people on Mindanao island. Source
  • Republican wins U.S. election race 1 day after being charged with assault

    World News CBC News
    Republican multimillionaire Greg Gianforte won Montana's only U.S. House seat on Thursday despite being charged a day earlier with assault after witnesses said he grabbed a reporter by the neck and threw him to the ground. Source
  • Republican wins U.S. election 1 day after being charged with assault

    World News CBC News
    Republican multimillionaire Greg Gianforte won Montana's only U.S. House seat on Thursday despite being charged a day earlier with assault after witnesses said he grabbed a reporter by the neck and threw him to the ground. Source
  • Greg Gianforte wins U.S. House race day after charged with assault

    World News Toronto Sun
    BOZEMAN, Mont. — Republican multimillionaire Greg Gianforte won Montana’s only U.S. House seat on Thursday despite being charged a day earlier with assault after witnesses said he grabbed a reporter by the neck and threw him to the ground. Source
  • $95.6M awarded to Philadelphia building collapse survivor who suffered a 'guillotine amputation'

    World News Toronto Sun
    PHILADELPHIA — An arbitrator has awarded $95.6 million to a Ukrainian immigrant who was seriously injured in a 2013 Philadelphia building collapse. Mariya Plekan’s attorney, Andrew Stern, announced the division of the $227 million settlement on Thursday. Source