Trooper charged in Sandra Bland case turns himself in to Texas Rangers

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WALLER COUNTY - Brian Encinia, the Texas state trooper who arrested Sandra Bland, turned himself in to Texas Rangers on Thursday, a day after being indicted on a perjury charge.

Bland, an African-American woman, was found dead in her cell three days after being arrested, accused of failing to use her turn signal July 10. She was 28.

Brian Encinia booking photo
Brian Encinia booking photo (courtesy Waller County Sheriff's Department)

Her family has maintained she should never have been arrested and would never kill herself. Police said she hanged herself with a plastic bag in her cell. The case raised questions of excessive police force and the role of race in police interactions.

Special prosecutor Shawn McDonald said Wednesday outside the courthouse that "the indictment was issued in reference to the reasoning that (Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia) removed her from her vehicle."

The penalty for perjury, a Class A misdemeanor, is up to a year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said after the indictment was announced that it will begin termination proceedings against the trooper.

Waller County Sheriff Glenn Glenn says bond for Encinia has been set at $2500.

Geneva Reed-Veal, whose daughter died in a jail cell three days after her arrest following a contentious traffic stop, was upset that trooper Brian Encinia was charged just with perjury.

"And to charge this guy with a misdemeanor ... are you kidding me?" she said at a news conference in Chicago, where the family lives. "The world is looking at this going, 'Are you serious?' There is nobody that believes this is right for the crime."

Reed-Veal believes Encinia should face other charges like assault, battery and/or false arrest.

Encinia, who turned himself in on Thursday and paid a $2,500 bail, hasn't commented on the case.

In an arrest affidavit he said Bland was out of control, calling her "combative and uncooperative."

Reed-Veal and attorney Cannon Lambert said Bland was slapped during her July 10 traffic stop for a lane change violation and that is why Encinia should face a battery charge.

In the audio from a dashcam recording of the arrest, Encinia can be heard telling Bland, "Get out or I will remove you. I am giving you a lawful order."

Bland, who was in Texas for a new job, says she is calling her lawyer and the trooper reaches in saying he will jerk her out if he has to do so.

The video also shows the Texas trooper threaten Bland with a Taser and say: "I will light you up!"

Lambert said that should have led to a charge of assault.

Encinia wrote he removed Bland from the car to conduct a safer traffic investigation. The grand jury didn't believe him.

"No one should be OK with this," Reed-Veal said Thursday. "To think that this (perjury indictment) would be just put out here and we would be OK and say alright, it's done. No."

Reed-Veal called Encinia a fall guy, saying others involved in Bland's arrest and detention also should have been charged.

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