Records released Wednesday by authorities in Waller County indicate that the Texas Department of Public Safety obtained a search warrant to examine Sandra Bland’s telephone.
The purpose of the search warrant was to determine if there was evidence that she had been mistreated by arresting officer Brian Encinia. After a contentious arrest, documented by Encinia’s squad car camera, Bland died in custody July 13. Her death was ruled a suicide.
The warrant application, filed by criminal investigator Shane Ellison, sought to examine Bland’s phone for video recordings, photos, phone numbers, recent calls and text messages to determine if the offense of “official oppression” occurred.
“As Ranger Ellison’s investigation into the death of Ms. Bland became public knowledge, he learned through various sources, whose credibility could not be evaluated or determined, that there was suspicion and speculation that during traffic stop, Trooper Encinia, while a public servant acting under color of his employment, intentionally subjected Sandra Bland to mistreatment or to arrest, detention, search, or seizure, that he knew was unlawful,” Ellison wrote.
Encinia reportedly told Ellison that he believed Bland had recorded him during the stop.
“Trooper Encinia told Ranger Ellison that he repeatedly ordered Ms. Bland to put down her phone,” the officer continued. “Trooper Encinia told Ranger Ellison that Ms. Bland finally complied with his order to put down her phone and she slammed it down on the trunk of her car.”