HEMPSTEAD — A Baltimore pastor on Monday said video taken from a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper's dashboard camera shows Sandra Bland did not attack the officer.
State and federal officials are investigating the death of Bland, who was found dead July 13 in a Waller County jail cell three days after she was arrested on a charge of assaulting a public servant.
"We have new footage that has been released and in that video cam that has been released there is not one shot, not one scene of where Ms. Bland ever assaulted police," said the Rev. Jamal Bryant, pastor of Empowerment Temple in Baltimore. Bryant is one of several activists who have descended on tiny Waller County, about 50 miles northwest of Houston, to call for a Department of Justice investigation into Bland's death.
Bryant said a copy of the video was given by DPS to an attorney for Bland's family. Bryant watched it in the company of that attorney, he said.
He said the video shows trooper Brian Encinia pulling over Bland and then asking her to put out her cigarette. She refused, telling him she had the right to smoke. Bryant also revealed that Bland herself began recording her conversation with the trooper.
Bland had been pulled over by Encinia for an improper lane change. Three days later, she was found hanged in jail, and the Harris County medical examiner ruled her death a suicide. On Friday, DPS reassigned Encinia to desk duties because the dashboard camera video revealed violations of traffic stop procedures.
Multiple agencies, including the Texas Rangers and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, have announced investigations into her death.
A Prairie View A&M graduate, Bland had returned to take a temporary job with the school's extension service, which was to have started on Aug. 3.