Waller County, TX — In 2015, the United States got a glimpse into the deadly nature of the police state and how a traffic stop over failure to signal can and will lead to death. Sandra Bland — who died in jail after being arrested over failure to use her blinker — became the symbol of America’s horrific problems of in-custody deaths over ridiculous arrests. Now, after nearly four years and no indictments, we are learning that Bland filmed her own arrest that fateful day and her video has been suppressed ever since.
Until now, the only video of Bland’s arrest has been the highly controversial footage from the arresting officer’s dashcam, which TFTP confirmed was edited in 2015. Using this footage, former state trooper Brian Encinia – who has since been fired for assaulting an officer – claimed he “feared for his life” during the arrest. But this asinine assertion was proven wrong, and now, thanks to the cellphone video, we see who was in actual fear of their safety and it wasn’t the man armed with a badge and a gun.
In the newly released footage, we see Encinia as the aggressor. Instead of simply writing Bland a ticket for improper signalling, he pulled Bland from her car while pointing a taser in her face. The entire time, Bland is asking why this is happening over improper signalling.
When Bland is pulled from the vehicle, the aggressive trooper demanded she turn off her phone. Bland refuses several times, knowing it is her right to film a traffic stop. But this trooper continued to escalate threats of violence—forcing her to turn it off.
“I will light you up! Get out! Now!” Encinia says as he aims the taser into Bland’s face.
The new footage from Bland’s phone has been covered up by investigators, according to the family, who reportedly never told them about it. Now, after learning of the video from WFAA, the Bland family is calling for a new investigation.
“Open up the case, period,” said Bland’s sister Shante Needham after she was shown the video.
The family explained how they feel the video was intentionally withheld as it’s damning to the defense.
“We also know they have an extremely, extremely good cover-up system,” Needham said.
According to WFAA, Texas Department of Public Safety officials declined an on-camera interview but said the video was not withheld.
“The premise that the video was not produced as a part of the discovery process is wrong,” DPS said in a statement. “A hard drive containing copies of 820 Gigabytes of data compiled by DPS from its investigation, including the dashcam videos, jail video footage and data from Sandra Bland’s cell phone, was part of discovery.”
While the DPS claims it was released during discovery, the attorney for the family says otherwise.
Cannon Lambert, the attorney who represented the family during their lawsuit — which ended in a $1.9 million settlement for the family, without the video — noted that the video was not produced during discovery, which was done under seal.
“I’ve not seen it,” said Lambert, when shown the video by Brian Collister, chief reporter with the Investigative Network, according to WFAA.
“If they had turned it over, I would have seen it, Brian. I’ve not seen that,” Lambert said.
According to WFAA, as part of the settlement, the Bland family was required to return all evidence given to them as part of the federal court proceedings. They say the cellphone footage was never part of the discovery they received.
The Bland family is claiming that the new video proves the officer knew Bland was not a threat. He knew she was merely holding a cellphone and nothing else and had no reason to escalate.
In the video, Encinia even tells Bland to “get off the phone.”
“He sees exactly what’s in her hand,” Lambert said of the cellphone recording. “How can you tell me you don’t know what’s in her hand when you’re looking right dead at it. What did she do to make him feel his safety was in jeopardy? Nothing.”
As TFTP reported, Bland was first allegedly stopped by police for failing to signal before changing lanes, but the situation quickly escalated.
Encinia claimed she was “argumentative and uncooperative” during the stop, prompting him to remove his Taser from its holster and threaten her, saying, “I will light you up.” She was then forcibly removed from her vehicle and slammed on the ground.
The new video shows Bland did nothing but ask why she’s being pulled from the vehicle over a turn signal—a question anyone would likely ask.
What’s more, another officer on the scene, Prairie View police officer Michael Kelley, claimed that he had wanted to share certain information about Bland’s arrest, but was scared into silence by fellow cops.
Kelley told Charleston that Encinia lowered his microphone when he was out of earshot of the car and told his supervisor, “I have no idea what I’m going to arrest her for, but we’ll figure it out when we get to the county jail.”
Kelley also claims that information he submitted in a written statement to the Prairie View police chief was excluded from the official Department of Public Safety report, a claim the department denies.
Bland was charged with assaulting an officer. Encinia claimed she swung her elbows and kicked him in the shins. Whether or not those alleged injuries were sustained during the very physical arrest remains unknown.
Now, with the release of the new video, the family is renewing their calls for justice, which has yet to be served.
“[The video] not only shows that [Encinia] lied, but that he really had no business even stopping her, period,” said Shante Needham. “And at the end of the day, he needs to go to jail.”
Raw video below.