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Sandra Bland's Arresting Officer Indicted on Perjury Charges

The state trooper responsible for arresting 28-year-old Sandra Bland this past July has been indicted for lying under oath. The announcement was made last Wednesday afternoon at the courthouse in Hempstead during the fourth meeting of the grand jury.

Bland, originally from Naperville, IL, was on her way to a job interview at Texas’s Prairie View A&M University when she was pulled over, harassed by the officer, and subsequently arrested. She was found dead of an apparent suicide in her jail cell three days later.

In an affidavit, 30-year-old Brian Encinia claimed that he originally stopped Bland’s Hyundai Azera after she made a lane change without signaling. He then stated that he “had Bland exit the vehicle to further conduct a safe traffic investigation.” However, evidence from a dashcam video of the encounter has left prosecutors unconvinced that Encinia’s intentions were as stated. In fact, the video shows the officer threatening to “drag” Bland out of the vehicle for failing to put our her cigarette, and then pointing a tazer at her and threatening to “light her up.” Indeed, many people throughout the country have expressed outrage over the officer’s inappropriate use of force in a civilian encounter.

After hearing news of the indictment, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced that it would begin termination proceedings against Encinia. Waller County jail has also been found in violation of minimum jail standards, and have been held responsible for missing warning signs that Bland was a potential risk for suicide as well as for failing to put her on a stricter observation watch.

Encinia now faces a class A misdemeanor, which could mean up to one year in jail and a fine of $4,000 – what many consider to be a mere “slap on the wrist” for his active role as the catalyst in Sandra Bland’s death.

Attorney Tom Rhodes of Tom Rhodes Law Firm P.C. is of co-counsel in the civil lawsuit filed in Houston by Bland’s family.