A grand jury in Waller County, Texas has indicted Brian Encinia, the state trooper who improperly arrested Sandra Bland, on perjury charges. Ms. Bland was found hanged in her cell at Waller County jail on July 13 amidst much controversy surrounding the circumstances of her arrest.
The charge is a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted, Encinia could face up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
Trooper Encinia pulled Ms. Bland over in July 2015 for a routine traffic stop that culminated in her brutal arrest. Dashboard-camera video shows Encinia screaming at Bland, and threatening to “light her up” when she refused to put out a cigarette. Footage shows Encinia violently grabbing Ms. Bland from her vehicle and throwing her to the pavement.
The state led a legislative inquiry in July at which the director of the Department of Public Safety, Steven McCraw, said that Trooper Encinia violated department policy, behaved rudely and instigated a confrontational situation. The state representative who led the inquiry said the arrest was “the catalyst” for Ms. Bland’s death, and that Trooper Encinia “triggered the whole thing.”
The indictment follows a grand jury’s decision on December 21 to decline to indict staff of the Waller County jail were Bland was found dead. In addition to a civil suit against Encinia, Ms. Bland’s family has also brought civil suits against the county that jailed her, and the jailers who they say should have prevented her from dying while behind bars.