A Texas prosecutor stated yesterday, January 6, that the state trooper who arrested Sandra Bland in July has been indicted on a perjury charge related to that controversial arrest.
According to The New York Times, Brian T. Encinia wrote in an affidavit to jail officials claiming that he only forcibly removed Bland from her car to conduct a routine traffic investigation. But the much-scrutinized dashcam video of Bland’s arrest—three days before she was found dead in police custody, hanged in her cell—featured an escalating confrontation during which Encinia threatened her with a Taser and said, "I will light you up." A grand jury found Encinia’s statements to be false, according to special prosecutor Shawn McDonald, which lead to the perjury charge.
The charge against Encinia is qualified as a Class A misdemeanor, which prosecutors say carries a possible punishment of one year in jail and a $4,000 fine. The Department of Public Safety stated, hours after the indictment was announced, that state police “will begin termination proceedings to discharge him.”
Speaking about his interaction with his client after the indictment was announced, Encinia’s lawyer claimed that "His reaction was he’s not guilty," and that "When you’re not guilty, you don’t expect to be indicted." A Waller County, Texas judge must now call for a warrant and schedule a hearing and bond.
This is the first major charge against any of the state troopers involved in Sandra Bland’s arrest and detainment. Bland’s death under mysterious circumstances, as well as the state’s reluctance to indict anyone in connection to her death, has been a lightning rod for controversy and protest since July.
(H/t The New York Times)