Officials have dropped perjury charges against the Texas Department of Public Safety trooper who arrested Sandra Bland in 2015. Trooper Brian Encinia was the only official to face criminal indictment related to the arrest of Sandra Bland, a black woman who was found hanged in her Texas jail cell three days after her arrest and whose name became a rallying cry in protests against racial bias in policing.
Encinia pulled Bland over on July 10, 2015, for failing to signal a lane change in Prairie View, Texas, and arrested her soon after. She was found dead three days later in a Waller County jail cell.
Video footage showed Encinia trying to physically remove Bland from the car and threatening her with a Taser and saying, “I will light you up!” After Bland reportedly became combative, Encinia held her to the ground and arrested her.
Encinia said he instructed Bland to exit the vehicle to conduct a safe traffic stop in a probable-cause affidavit.
Focusing on that statement, a Waller County grand jury opted to indict Encinia last January on a misdemeanor perjury charge finding that statement to be false.
The perjury charge for the false statement could have led to a year in jail and a fine.
Cannon Lambert, a Bland family lawyer, said he was dismayed at the news.
“You cannot expect communities to feel confident with the system if officers are caught lying in written documents and are not held accountable,” told the Los Angeles Times. “The notion that the special prosecutor would make a decision like this in the face of the kind of case this is without communicating with the family is deplorable.”
Chip Lewis, Encinia’s attorney, in a statement announcing the dropped charge said, “Brian and his family appreciate the thoughtful review by the prosecutors. Dismissal was the right thing to do. The Encinias will remain forever grateful to their family, friends and members of the law enforcement community for all their support.”