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Sandra Bland’s mother: Perjury charge against trooper ‘not justice’

Video by PBS NewsHour

The mother of Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old black woman who was found dead in a Texas jail cell in July, said the perjury indictment against the state trooper who arrested her daughter is not enough.

Geneva Reed-Veal said at a news conference in Chicago on Thursday that the white trooper should also face charges of assault, battery and false arrest, adding that the initial indictment should be followed by a conviction.

“I want to see true justice happen here,” she said.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said it will “begin termination proceedings” against a Trooper Brian Encinia on Wednesday in connection to the arrest of Sandra Bland, who later died while in police custody. A Waller County grand jury indicted Encinia earlier that day with a Class A misdemeanor charge, which carries a $4,000 fine and a sentence of up to a year in jail, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The grand jury found that the trooper’s account of how he confronted Bland to be false, special prosecutors said.

“It certainly shouldn’t have taken all of this time now to come up with a perjury charge, are you kidding me?” Reed-Veal told reporters. “No, I’m not excited about it … That’s not justice for me.”

Encinia stopped Bland on July 10, 2015, after she failed to use her turn signal while changing lanes. The traffic stop increasingly became heated when Bland refused to put out her cigarette. When Encinia ordered Bland to get out of her car, she refused. The trooper, holding a stun gun, could be heard on police dashboard camera footage saying, “I will light you up!” Encinia then forcibly arrested Bland.

Video by Texas Department of Public Safety

A bystander also recorded video of the arrest, with Bland on the ground. She could be heard saying, “You just slammed my head into the ground. Do you not even care about that?”

Bland was found hanged in a Waller County jail cell three days after her arrest. On July 24, a medical examiner ruled Bland’s death a suicide. Encinia has been on administrative duty since Bland’s death.

In August, Bland’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the trooper.

During Wednesday’s indictment, the family’s lawyer Cannon Lambert said there are still unanswered questions.

“We just don’t understand why it took six months to charge him for lying when you can see he was lying in the videotape they have had from the very beginning,” Lambert is quoted as saying. “We also don’t understand why [Encinia] wasn’t charged with assault when he said ‘I’ll light you up,’ and with battery for grabbing [Bland] when she was in the car.”

In December, the grand jury declined to issue any indictments for Bland’s death.

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