Texas police insist video shows full arrest of Sandra Bland
Woman stopped for minor traffic infraction died in custody three days following arrest
A woman places a bouquet of roses at a memorial for Sandra Bland near Prairie View A&M University on Tuesday. Photograph: Pat Sullivan/AP
Authorities in the US have insisted that a patrol car video showing the arrest of a black motorist, who was later found dead in a jail cell, was not edited or manipulated.
The death of 28-year-old Sandra Bland, three days after she was arrested by a white law enforcement officer during a heated confrontation over a minor traffic offence in Texas, is the latest case to cast national attention on the interactions between police and minorities in the United States.
Officials say Ms Bland hanged herself in her cell — a contention her family and supporters dispute.
The video does not reveal what happened while she was in custody, but it depicts an emotional exchange in which the officer tried to drag Bland from her car, drew his stun gun and threatened that he would “light you up”.
The case has resonated on social media, with posts questioning the official account of the events.
The video posted by the Texas Department of Public Safety yesterday shows the trooper stopping Ms Bland for failure to signal when she changed lanes.
The conversation turns hostile when the officer asks Ms Bland to put out her cigarette and she asks why she cannot smoke in her own car.
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The trooper then orders Ms Bland to get out of the vehicle. When she refuses, the officer pulls what appears to be a weapon and says: “I will light you up”.
Out of the camera’s view, Ms Bland continues protesting against her arrest, repeatedly using expletives. At one point, she screams that he is about to break her wrists and complains that he knocked her head into the ground.
The video has drawn criticism for gaps and overlaps, but the Texas Department of Public Safety insisted today that it had not been doctored.
DPS spokesman Tom Vinger said glitches in the recording occurred when it was uploaded for public viewing.
Trooper Brian Encinia has said he used force “to subdue Bland to the ground”, and she continued to fight back. He arrested her for assault on a public servant.
He also said Ms Bland swung her elbows at him and kicked him in his right shin.
He has been placed on administrative leave.
“Regardless of the situation, it doesn’t matter where it happens, a DPS state trooper has got an obligation to exhibit professionalism and be courteous... and that wasn’t the case in this situation,” Steven McCraw, the department director, said.
Ms Bland was taken to a jail about 60 miles north-west of Houston on July 10th and was found dead on July 13th.
Although a medical examiner has ruled Bland’s death was suicide, supporters insist she was upbeat and looking forward to a new job at a local university.
Bland’s family and clergy members have called for a federal investigation, and an independent post-mortem examination has been ordered.