The video of the July 10 arrest of the black American woman, Sandra Bland, who died on July 13 in a Texas jail cell, shows a testy cop confronting a driver who absolutely cannot understand why she has been pulled over for not signaling while changing lanes. She explains that he was approaching quickly from behind so she was just getting out of his way.
When Bland refuses to comply with Encinia's arbitrary order to put out her cigarette, the cop explodes into a full-blown bully, tells her he's going to pull her out of her car, tries and fails to pull her out with his hands, then brandishes his taser. At taser-point, he forces her out of the camera's field of vision. Then, off-screen, from the sound of it, he evidently manhandles her in a way that recalls the recent pool party incident, when officer Eric Casebolt slammed the body of 15-year-old Dajerria Becton for, again, no good reason.
In the way the video of Eric Garner revealed an important piece of information missing from the police report, namely that he was choked to death, the video of Sandra Bland's arrest reveals a cloud of crucial information missing from the police report Encinia filed later. What he doesn't reveal in his later police report is that Bland was forced out of her car for no other reason than that she declined to immediately surrender all of her rights to his whims. He asks her, "Do you mind putting out your cigarette, please?" but that's not what he's really asking.
Consider the context of that request. It's one in a series of escalating provocations. From the transcript:
TROOPER: "You seem very irritated."
BLAND: "I am. I really am. Because of what I've been stopped and am getting a ticket for. I've been getting out of the way. You've been speeding up, so I move over and you stop me. So yeah, I am a little irritated. But that didn't stop you from giving me a ticket."
TROOPER: "Are you done?"
BLAND: "You asked me what was wrong and I told you. So now I'm done, yeah."
TROOPER: "OK, OK."
TROOPER: "Do you mind putting out your cigarette, please?"
BLAND: "I'm in my car. Why do I have to put out my cigarette?"
TROOPER: "Well, you can step out now."
BLAND: "I don't have to step on out."
TROOPER: "Step out of the car."
In a huff, he places his clipboard on the roof of her car, and opens her door.
BLAND: "No, you don't have the right."
TROOPER: "Step out of the car!"
BLAND: "You don't have the right to do that."
TROOPER: "I do have the right. Now step out or I'll remove you."
BLAND: "I am getting removed for failure to signal?"
TROOPER: "Step out or I'll remove you. I'm giving you a lawful order. Get out of the car now or I'm going to remove you."
BLAND: "I'm calling my lawyer."
TROOPER: "I'm going to yank you out of here."
BLAND: "OK, you're going to yank me out of the car?"
TROOPER: "Get out!" (reaching into the car)
BLAND: "Don't touch me!"
TROOPER: "Get out of the car!"
BLAND: "Don't touch me. I am not under arrest. You don't have the right to touch me."
TROOPER: "You are under arrest."
BLAND: "I'm under arrest for what?"
This is where the interaction achieves full nonsense, because he created the conditions for this arrest. You can tell she can't believe she's being arrested. And you can sympathize with her: It's not like she's under arrest because she broke the law.
Just think about it. If a cop car is accelerating behind you, you're not going to put on your turn signal, you're going to get out of its way. But Encinia seems to live in another world from the rest of us. He opts for an eccentric, almost purely imaginary, interpretation of her actions, in my view. The only world where Bland's arrest makes sense may be within the fantastic landscape of the officer's mind.
He doesn't even answer her essential question. His response to her question "I'm under arrest for what?" is to act as if she hasn't said anything—while radioing for backup.
Their interaction continues:
TROOPER: "Get out of the car! Get out of the car now!"
BLAND: "Am I being apprehended? Did you try to give me a ticket?"
TROOPER: "Get out of the car!"
BLAND: "Why am I being apprehended? You done opened my car door. So you're going to drag me out of my own car?"
TROOPER: "Get out of the car! I will light you up! Get out!"
BLAND: (Getting out of her car) "Wow. Wow. You're doing all this for a failure to signal?"
TROOPER: "Get over there!"
At weapon-point, he directs her out of the camera's field of vision.
As with Darren Wilson's account of his confrontation with Michael Brown, Encinia portrays himself in his incident report as the victim and Bland as the aggressor.
She is just some "combative" woman he had control for the "peace and dignity of the state of Texas."
Literally, that's what he says:
My belief of the foregoing statement is based upon personal knowledge, who personally observed such offense:
On Friday, July 10, 2015, at approximately 04:27 pm, I, Trooper Brian Encinia was on routine patrol in Waller
County, Texas. I observed a silver passenger car traveling southbound on Fm 1098 for failing to signal lane change.
The vehicle was identified as a Hyundai Azera Illinois LP: 845378187638. The driver was identified as Bland, Sandra Annette TX DL: [redacted] DOB: [redacted] through DPS Pierce Communications. I had Bland exit the vehicle to further conduct a safe traffic investigation. Bland became combative and uncooperative. Numerous commands were given to Bland ordering her to exit the vehicle. Bland was removed from the car but became more combative. Bland was placed in handcuffs for officer safety. Bland began swinging her elbows at me and then kicked my right leg in the shin. I had a pain in my right leg and suffered small cuts on my right hand. Force was used to subdue Bland to the ground to which Bland continued to fight back. Bland was placed under arrest for Assault on Public Servant. The vehicle was inventoried and released to Crown Towing. Bland was transported and booked into the Waller County Jail for Assault on Public Servant.
This offense was committed against the peace and dignity of the state of Taxes.
This has not has its day in court yet, but it is clear to me, and anyone who is not blind, that his account is a piece of fiction. We have the video of the interaction, and we have the official telling of the interaction. The distance between the two is shocking.