The Texas state trooper who pulled Sandra Bland over last year, dragging her out of her car when she would not extinguish a cigarette, then throwing her in jail where she was later found dead, was indicted today for perjury, meaning he lied in his police report.
That was obvious to anybody who watched the video, then read the affidavit filed by trooper Brian Encinia, who claimed he ordered her out of the car to “further conduct a safe traffic investigation.”
And that was obvious to the Waller County grand jury, who “found that statement to be false,” according to special prosecutor Shawn McDonald, who apparently did not see the need to pursue charges of assault and battery or false imprisonment, even though those would also have been appropriate.
The truth is, Encinia ordered her out of her car for contempt of cop because the traffic investigation was already completed.
And once she was out of the car, he didn’t like the fact that she kept kept questioning her arrest, demanding to know why she was being arrested before following his orders to turn around and place her hands behind her back.
Not only could he not provide her with a lawful reason to arrest her that day, he was unable to come up with a lawful reason in his report, so he further lied by claiming she was “combative” and had to be placed in handcuffs for “officer safety.”
He also accused her swinging her elbows at him and kicking him in the shin, leaving him in pain.
None of that happened but it appears as if the grand jury only focused on the lie he conjured about ordering her out of her car.
The perjury charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $,4,000 fine, according to the New York Times.
Encinia, 30, has worked for the Texas Department of Public Safety since 2014.
On July 10, he pulled Bland over for making an improper lane change. He had already obtained her drivers license and ran her name for warrants before he walked back to her car to hand her a citation.
But she had been smoking a cigarette, so he ordered her to put it out, but she refused. He then escalated the situation to the point of ordering her out of her car under threat of tasering, telling her, “I will light you up.”
She was arrested and jailed and found dead in her cell three days later of an apparent suicide.
Last month, a grand jury determined jail staff did not commit any crimes. Today’s grand jury came away with a different conclusion on Encinia, who had already been placed on administrative leave by the department for violating department standards.
Bland’s family has filed a lawsuit, which is expected to go to trial next January.
UPDATE: The Texas Department of Public Safety issued the following statement after the grand jury decision, saying they are taking steps to fire Encinio.