Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sandra Bland

Sandra Bland (Facebook)
The more I read and hear about Sandra Bland's treatment by a Texas State Trooper during a traffic stop, her arrest by that Trooper, and her subsequent death in police custody, the more appalled I am by Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia and the more I admire and respect Bland. Today, the Huffington Post in its Politics section posted a transcript of Encinia's dashcam video of the traffic stop.  It is revealing.

The traffic stop looks fairly routine at the beginning, and Trooper Encinia behaves respectfully.  So what happened?  He takes Bland's license back to his car -- another routine procedure, and you can hear him typing on the video -- to check it for outstanding warrants probably, then returns to Bland's car.  At this point, his whole attitude and tone have changed.  Why?  Why comment that she sounded irritated?  Take care of the business of writing the traffic ticket and leave.

Reading the rest of the transcript as Trooper Encinia continues to escalate the confrontation and Bland stands up for her rights is painful and appalling.   He clearly lacks the training and professionalism to have handled this traffic stop in a business-like manner.  What he does do is totally unacceptable.

Over at Daughter Number Three, she shares a post by Michael Leddy about the Encinia's previous stop, which happened just minutes before he pulled Bland to the side of the road.  Encinia had let off a female college student who was speeding although the student had no proof of insurance.  It stands in contrast to Bland's stop in which Encinia appears to behave as if he has the power and he can wield it with impunity.

While there truly is no upside for Bland's family at this point, perhaps there's a slight upside for American society.  That is, the dashcam video has been released to the public online; video of the Waller County jail where Bland was being held has been released showing, apparently, the discovery that all was not normal in Bland's cell and the Sheriff's response.  I wondered, watching the video of the EMTs rolling the gurney out, if that was really Bland on that gurney.  You cannot tell if it's a human being or not. The release of these videos contributes to a trend toward operational transparency that's being taken now by law enforcement agencies in this country.

I grieve for Bland, for her family and friends.  I hope the investigation into her death is thorough and objective, and will bring all of us the answers we need in this case.  Time will tell.....



Tamara Narayan said...

What a terrifying story. It's so hard to believe someone could be stopped for a traffic violation and end up committing suicide in a jail cell. What in the world happened?

Gina said...

There's an investigation into Bland's death. If you watch even just a little of the dashcam video from the Texas State Trooper's car, you can see how he just goes off against her, becomes hostile, clearly doesn't like that Bland knew her rights and stood up for them. I think the Trooper was not well trained at all and allowed his emotions to influence his behavior rather than stepping back, completing the business and walking away.

Dylan Mitchell said...

Excellent post. I also wrote something about the quite odd death of Sandra Bland. I'm glad many people are blogging about this American horror story, and hope the truth will eventually come out. I mean, even if she did take her own life (which many people doubt), she was driven to it by a quite unstable Texas State Trooper. I enjoyed reading your blog :-)

Gina said...

Thanks, Dylan, for your comment. I am also somewhat skeptical about her "suicide" and wonder if it has been assisted. Hope you'll return often!