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Sandra Bland Recorded Her Own Video Of The 2015 Traffic Stop Arrest


Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old black woman, was arrested at a traffic stop in East Texas back in 2015. Police said she failed to put on her turn signal when changing lanes. Three days later, Bland killed herself in her jail cell. The case generated international condemnation. Now cellphone video of that traffic stop has come to light. And as NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports, the video was taken by Bland herself during the confrontation.

WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: Sandra Bland's cellphone video begins after the confrontation has already started. As Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia orders Bland out to be arrested.


BRIAN ENCINIA: Get out of the car now.

SANDRA BLAND: Why am I being apprehended? You're trying to give me a ticket for failure...

ENCINIA: I said get out of the car.

BLAND: Why am I being apprehended? You just opened my car door.

GOODWYN: The video was uncovered by investigativenetwork.org. In it, Bland is flabbergasted that she's about to be arrested for a minor traffic infraction. But its Trooper Encinia who escalates the confrontation. He pulls his Taser from his holster, points it at Bland and threatens her with it.


ENCINIA: Get out of the car.

BLAND: And then you going to stun me?

ENCINIA: I will light you up. Get out...

BLAND: Wow. Wow.

ENCINIA: ...Now.


ENCINIA: Get out of the car.

GOODWYN: Encinia loses his composure. Although Bland asks repeatedly, the trooper refuses to say why she's being arrested. While she's outraged, Bland is mostly self-controlled and doesn't cower before the trooper's fury.


BLAND: Yeah, let's take this to court. Let's do it...

ENCINIA: Go ahead.

BLAND: ...For failure to signal - yep - for a failure to signal...

ENCINIA: Get off the phone.

BLAND: ...On my school (ph).

ENCINIA: Get off the phone.

BLAND: I'm not on the phone. I have a right to...

ENCINIA: Put your phone down.

BLAND: ...Record. This is my property.

GOODWYN: While the 39-second video gives Bland's first-person perspective, there is no new information. That's because the trooper's dashcam recording was released soon after Bland's death. That video, with its naked portrayal of Encinia's bullying behavior, caused an international hue and cry. In his interview with Texas DPS investigators, the trooper claimed self-defense.


ENCINIA: My safety was in jeopardy at more than one time.

GOODWYN: That statement resulted in Encinia being charged with perjury, his own dashcam video giving lie to his account. That video shows Encinia baiting Sandra Bland as he returns to her car to give her the ticket.


ENCINIA: You OK? I don't know. You seem very irritated.

BLAND: I am. I really am.

GOODWYN: Bland's family back in Chicago was never satisfied with the aftermath of the case. The perjury charges against the trooper were dropped in exchange for an agreement that Encinia would never work in law enforcement again. In an interview with investigativenetwork.org, Bland's sister Shante Needham called for Texas law enforcement to reopen the case.


SHANTE NEEDHAM: This not only shows that he lied but that he really had no business even stopping her - period. And at the end of the day, he needs to go to jail.

GOODWYN: While no criminal charges were ever brought, Bland's family sued both the county and the state and received nearly $2 million. In the wake of Bland's suicide in an East Texas jail cell, the Texas legislature passed the Sandra Bland Act. It requires that all Texas law enforcement officers be trained specifically in de-escalation techniques and requires that jail deaths be investigated by independent law enforcement bureaus.

Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Dallas.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Wade Goodwyn is an NPR National Desk Correspondent covering Texas and the surrounding states.