Texas trooper to be fired after indictment in case related to jail death
AUSTIN, Texas – A Texas trooper who arrested a black motorist who was later found hanged in her jail cell was indicted on Wednesday by a grand jury on perjury charges over statements he made in his arrest report and public safety officials said he would be fired.
Trooper Brian Encinia who arrested Sandra Bland, 28, in July, was indicted by the grand jury in Waller County, outside of Houston, a special prosecutor and a court clerk said. Bland was found dead in her cell three days after her arrest.
The Texas Department of Public Safety said in a statement on Wednesday that it would begin proceedings to discharge Encinia.
Bland’s case was one of many around the United States that raised questions about racial bias by police.
Encinia could face up to a year in jail if found guilty of making a false statement when he said in his report that he pulled Bland out of her car to further investigate the traffic stop, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Special prosecutors were not immediately available for comment on the proceedings, which were held behind closed doors.
In December, a grand jury in the same county decided not to indict any members of the jail staff over Bland’s death.
Bland was pulled over on July 10 by Encinia for failing to signal a lane change in Prairie View, about 50 miles northwest of Houston.
The stop escalated into a verbal altercation after Encinia asked Bland to put out a cigarette and she refused. A dashcam video of the incident showed Encinia telling Bland, “I will light you up.”
The Texas Department of Public Safety faulted Encinia for his conduct during the traffic stop. The video showed him shouting at Bland and failing to answer her when she asked numerous times why she was being arrested.
Bland was charged with assaulting an officer, a felony.
Her body was found in her cell three days later with a trash bag around her neck. Her family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit. Local officials have said she was not mistreated in jail. (Reuters)