Sandra Bland's Family Is Still Searching for the Truth

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The family of Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old woman who died in a Texas jail after being pulled over for a traffic violation, is still searching for answers about her death. On Monday, local news outlet WFAA published Bland’s previously unreleased 39-second cell phone video of the traffic stop, in which a state trooper points a taser at Bland and yells: “I will light you up! Get out! Now!

In 2015, Bland was pulled over for failing to use her turn signal to change lanes. State trooper Brian Encinia, after approaching the Bland’s car, asked Bland to put out her cigarette, but she refused. He then, as shown in the video, threatened her with a taser and forced her out of the car. Then, claiming that “my safety was in jeopardy at more than one time,” Encinia arrested her. Three days after the arrest, Bland was found dead in a Waller County jail cell. Her death was ruled a suicide, and ultimately perjury charges against the trooper, Brian Encinia, were dropped. Her death, and the lack of accountability for the police officers who took her into custody, ignited mass protests, once again calling attention to police brutality and the extent to which black lives and black women are devalued in this country.

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“Until now, the trooper’s dashcam footage was believed to be the only full recording of the July 2015 traffic stop,” WFAA reports. The Bland family told the outlet that they had not previously seen the footage or known of its existence, demanding that the investigation be re-opened. “Open up the case, period,” Bland’s sister Shante Needham said.

Bland’s family alleges that the state “purposely withheld the video, raising fresh questions about official misconduct.”

The Texas Department of Public Safety denies this, saying the video was included in evidence turned over to the family’s lawyers. “The premise that the video was not produced as a part of the discovery process is wrong,” the department said in a statement. “A hard drive containing copies of 820 Gigabytes of data compiled by DPS from its investigation, including the dash cam videos, jail video footage and data from Sandra Bland’s cellphone, was part of discovery.”

Bland family’s attorney Cannon Lambert said he hasn’t seen the video, however. “If they had turned it over, I would have seen it.”

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Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is a senior reporter at Jezebel.

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