A newly released cell phone video shows a different angle of the Sandra Bland controversial cop stop which comes from her own recording that hasn’t been seen before publicly, WFAA reports.
WFAA obtained the footage as part of an exclusive partnership with the Investigative Network.
Bland died three days later and her death was ruled a suicide by authorities. The details surrounding her death still remain a mystery and it was believed that there was only one video that existed from the cop’s dashcam. Many want to know what would cause a politically active, 28-year-old woman to allegedly end her own life in jail.
The new video has the Bland family questioning why this evidence has been withheld since the July 2015 traffic stop.
The 39-second cellphone video shot by Bland was only released after the criminal investigation closed.
Bland’s family now wants Texas officials to re-open the case against the Trooper.
“Open up the case, period,” Bland’s sister Shante Needham said after seeing the video,
“We also know they have an extremely, extremely good cover-up system,” Needham said.
Texas Department of Public Safety officials disagree with the claim that the video was 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.”
The attorney for the Bland family Cannon Lambert has stated that he has never seen the video nor was it introduced during discovery during the federal lawsuit.
“I’ve not seen it,” said Lambert.
“If they had turned it over, I would have seen it, Brian. I’ve not seen that,” Lambert said to the investigative reporter Brian Collister.
Bland was a vibrant 28-year-old who was moving to Texas to start a new job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University. Like a lot of African-American millennials, Bland was active on social media. The activist had been labeling her Facebook videos with #SandySpeaks to talk about a number of issues, including race relations, police brutality, and Black Lives Matter.
In a series of events that have not been fully revealed, Bland was first pulled over on July 10 in Waller County, TX, allegedly for a minor traffic violation to then violently being manhandled by DPS Trooper Brian Encinia.
“My safety was in jeopardy at more than one time,” Encinia told investigators.
But the new cell phone video seems to contradict his statement.
Encinia ultimately was fired and indicted by a grand jury for perjury. But his perjury charge was later dropped in exchange for him giving up his license and agreeing never to work as a cop again.
The Bland family did file a $1.9 million dollar lawsuit against Waller County and Texas DPS was required to return all evidence in the case as part of the settlement. However, Bland’s cell phone footage wasn’t revealed in discovery.
“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.”
“[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.”
State Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) released the following statement about cellphone video after the news station aired the story.
“It is troubling that a crucial piece of evidence was withheld from Sandra Bland’s family and legal team in their pursuit of justice. The illegal withholding of evidence by one side from the other destroys our legal system’s ability to produce fair and just outcomes. As Chair of the House Committee on County Affairs that looked into the death of Sandra Bland, I will make sure that the Committee will also look into how this happened.
I am glad to see that the Sandra Bland Act is already making a difference in terms of better training for jailers and new officers. Additionally, through new data reporting requirements regarding traffic stops, the Act has already helped push local reforms and key legislative policies forward such as House Bill 2754 by Representative White, of which I am a Joint-Author of, that prevents arrests for nonjailable offenses. HB 2754’s policy was part of the original Sandra Bland Act as filed last session. I am proud that the Act has had a positive impact and will continue to make a difference in the future.”