If her death was confusing already, footage of the moments following her routine traffic stop just days prior to her tragic death by apparent suicide at Waller County Jail on Monday has done little to clear things up. On Thursday, a cell phone video of Sandra Bland's arrest taken by a witness on July 10 was unearthed, and it shows the contentious arrest.
Waller County District Attorney and the Texas Department of Public Safety officials have been on the case since early this week. Officials from the DA said that they had requested an FBI forensic analysis of videos related to the case.
"In the preliminary review of the traffic stop that occurred in Prairie View on July 10, 2015, involving Sandra Bland, we have identified violations of the department’s procedures regarding traffic stops and the department’s courtesy policy," said the DPS.
Bland was first pulled over for a minor traffic violation on Friday, July 10. According to police records, she had allegedly failed to use her blinker during a lane change outside of Houston. Little is publicly known from the time between Bland's initial arrest and the beginning of the cell phone video footage, although the officer involved claimed that Bland had assaulted him prior to her being pulled from her vehicle and pinned to the ground.
In case you're uncomfortable watching the footage yourself, here's a quick summary of what transpired over the in the one-minute-and-37-second video:
At the start of the footage, both officers, Brian Encinia (who has since been suspended pending the investigation's outcome) and an unnamed Texas Ranger are seen holding Bland's hands behind her back to restrain her as she lies on the ground near her vehicle. Bland can be heard yelling,
You smashed my head into the ground... I guess that's the way that (unintelligible).
To which one of the officers (it's not clear which one) seems to reply,
Sandra responds, seeming to mock the officer's curt reply:
Good? Alright, alright, yeah, this is real good. ... Oh, strong. You're real strong.
At that point, the three continue to trade garbled words until one of the officers, noticing the passerby, stands and begins to walk toward the man, who continues recording the incident, saying,
You need to leave. You need to leave!
The man responds, saying,
I can't hear you.
The officer then continues to tell the man, who stands about five car lengths from Bland and the other officer, that he needs to leave, although it was not immediately clear whether the passerby was actually impeding on the arrest itself in any way (the only legal reason a police officer may ask someone to shut off recording equipment). The man then asks whether he's on "public property," to which the officer does not respond.
As the video progresses, the officer who had instructed the passerby to leave is seen walking around the police cruiser, opening a passenger side door before heading back to where the other Ranger has Bland pinned to the ground. Bland can then be heard yelling that she had "just [driven] down" to the city for a new job and couldn't believe that she had been arrested.
Both officers then lift her from the ground, and Bland replies,
I can't even feel my arms. You just slammed my head into the ground, you do not care about that. I can't even hear.
As the officers take Bland back to the police cruiser, the passerby slightly lowers his phone, but continues recording. Bland can be heard yelling to the passerby before the video cuts out,
Thank you for recording. Thank you. ... My traffic signal.... They slammed me into the ground and everything.
By the Monday following her arrest, Bland allegedly committed suicide by hanging herself with a trash bag inside her jail cell, according to police. It was not clear how she had obtained the bag itself or whether there had been a significant lapse in observation by Waller County officials that allowed her to do so.
Questions have also arisen since Bland's death, over her apparent arrangement with a bondsman, after the bondsman reached out to the press, insisting that Bland had made plans to bail herself out by the end of the weekend.
To date, the identity of the cameraman who recorded Bland's arrest has not been made public, although the YouTube suggested that the man's name was Jay Runway. A further search for his Facebook profile, on which he allegedly first uploaded the video, came up empty.
If you're feeling up to it, you can view the video of Bland's arrest in its entirety below.
Images: Shazzam1294/YouTube screenshots (3)