Texas Tribune Blue Government News
A Texas House committee will hold a hearing this morning following the publication of a video recorded by Sandra Bland, a black woman who was found dead in a Waller County jail cell three days after a tense 2015 traffic stop.
The chair of the County Affairs Committee, state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, has scheduled the hearing for 8 a.m. According to his office, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw and the DPS general counsel, two members of Attorney General Ken Paxton‘s staff and Jason Hermus, felony chief of the Dallas County Criminal District Attorney’s Office, are slated to testify.
The Investigative Network obtained and aired the video on Dallas TV station WFAA earlier this month. It shows a brief altercation between Bland, 28, and a white police officer who pulled her over in Prairie View, ordering her out of the car while wielding a stun gun. Although an investigation concluded that Bland later took her own life after being jailed, the incident became a major flashpoint in the Black Lives Matter movement.
Texas state trooper Brian Encinia stopped Bland for not using her turn signal when changing lanes while she was driving in Prairie View. Their conversation became heated after she refused to put out her cigarette, and the trooper then threatened to drag her out of her car and tase her.
Bland was charged with assaulting a public servant, and the trooper later told authorities he felt his safety was in jeopardy. However, footage from his dashboard camera contradicted his account and he was later fired and indicted for perjury. That charge was dropped after he agreed to give up his peace officer’s license and never work as an officer again.
The newly-released video footage, shot with Bland’s cell phone, shows the confrontation from Bland’s perspective as Encinia shouted, “Get out of the car, I will light you up” as he pointed a stun gun at her. Bland’s family has since called for the investigation into Bland’s arrest to be reopened.
Bland’s cell phone video did not show any major details of the arrest that were not captured by the trooper’s dashcam video. But there is a question about whether officials provided Bland’s video to her family’s attorneys during the discovery phase of their lawsuit.
Watch the livestream of the hearing below.