Tensions Flare in Texas Capitol Over New Sandra Bland Video - NBC Chicago

Tensions Flare in Texas Capitol Over New Sandra Bland Video

Bland was found hanging in her jail cell outside Houston three days after her 2015 arrest

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Sandra Bland's Own Video of 2015 Texas Traffic Stop Surfaces

    Cellphone video recorded by Sandra Bland, a black woman found dead in a Texas jail in 2015 following a confrontational traffic stop, shows for the first time her perspective as a white state trooper draws his stun gun and points it at close range while ordering her out of the car. Natalie Martinez reports. (Published Tuesday, May 7, 2019)

    Texas authorities on Friday denied withholding a cellphone video of Sandra Bland's confrontational traffic stop, responding to a Democratic legislator's heated questions about why the 39-second clip never publicly surfaced until now.

    Bland, a 28-year-old black woman from outside Chicago, had used her phone in 2015 to briefly film a white state trooper as he drew a stun gun and yelled "I will light you up!" while ordering her out of the car. She was dead day later, hanging in her jail cell outside Houston.

    "The Department of Public Safety has not illegally withheld evidence from Sandra Bland's family or her legal team," said Phillip Adkins, general counsel of the agency.

    The video had not been publicly seen until it was aired this month by a Dallas television station, and both lawmakers and Bland's family say they had also never seen the clip . They say the video proves that Trooper Brian Encinia had no reason to fear for his life and questioned whether he should have faced charges beyond perjury.

    WATCH: Dashcam Video Shows Traffic Stop, Arrest Of Sandra Bland

    [NATL] WATCH: Dashcam Video Shows Traffic Stop, Arrest Of Sandra Bland

    A police dashboard video released July 21 shows how a traffic stop escalated into a shouting confrontation between Sandra Bland and the Texas state trooper who arrested her. Note: The above video has been edited for length and contains profanity that has been bleeped.

    (Published Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017)

    Democratic presidential contenders in the crowded 2020 field have also reacted to the video with calls for accountability and criminal justice reforms .

    Explanations by state officials were challenged, often sharply, by Democratic state Rep. Garnet Coleman, who said he never received the video despite asking for all evidence two years as chairman of the House Committee on County Affairs. He told Adkins he was handed a jumbled "data dump" of four discs and said the description of Bland's cellphone video in the state's investigative report wasn't an honest account.

    Bland's mother, Geneva Reed-Veal of Chicago, attended the hearing at the Texas Capitol but did not testify. She told reporters afterward she heard "a lot of discrepancies" at the hearing but declined further comment.

    Sandra Bland's Family Settles for $1.9M in Wrongful Death Suit

    [CHI] Sandra Bland's Family Settles for $1.9M in Wrongful Death Suit
    Attorneys for the family of Sandra Bland say they have reached a $1.9 million settlement in the wrongful death case they filed, stemming from the Chicago area woman’s death in a Texas jail. Phil Rogers reports.
    (Published Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016)

    Encinia, the trooper, was fired after being indicted for perjury and said he came to fear for his safety after stopping Bland for failing to signal a lane change. The perjury charge was later dropped in exchange for Encinia agreeing to never work in law enforcement again.

    Coleman said Encinia "got off light" and accused state officials of not being ethically forthcoming with their handling of the video. Adkins said they have documents showing that a thumb drive with the cellphone video had been sent by prosecutors in 2015 to Cannon Lambert, the Bland's family attorney. Lambert has said he never saw the video in evidence that was turned over.

    "That video shows something very enlightening," Coleman said. "All she had in her hand was a cellphone filming him. So you light people up for filming?"

    Sandra Bland Attorney Says Investigators Failed to Ask Key Questions

    [CHI] Sandra Bland Attorney Says Investigators Failed to Ask Key Questions
    The attorney for the family of Sandra Bland is asking why key witnesses in the case were asked nothing about events inside the Waller County Texas Jail, shortly after the Chicago woman allegedly hanged herself last July. NBC 5's Phil Rogers reports.
    (Published Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016)

    Steve McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, quickly responded no.

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