Brian Encinia, the Texas state trooper who arrested Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old African-American woman who was found dead three days later in her Waller County jail cell, has been indicted on perjury charges, a special prosecutor said. Hours after the decision was announced, the Texas Department of Public Safety started termination proceedings against Encinia, 30, who last July stopped Bland for failing to signal a lane change and arrested her, the Houston Chronicle reports. Prosecutor Darrell Jordan said the indictment stemmed from a statement the trooper made in a one-page affidavit he filed in Bland’s arrest, in which he said he pulled her out of her car to “further conduct a safe traffic investigation.” “They just didn’t believe it,” Jordan said.
Larkin Eakin, Encinia’s lawyer, said his client “was surprised obviously, because he does not feel anything was misleading in his report.” Bland’s case was one of several high profile lethal incidents between law enforcement and civilians over the last 18 months that prompted nationwide protests about the treatment of people of color by police, and her face was among those that became emblems of the Black Lives Matter movement. Video of the incident from a bystander and a dashboard camera in Encinia’s cruiser recorded an increasingly confrontational encounter between the two after Bland refused to put out a cigarette, with Encinia at one point brandishing a stun gun and yelling at Bland, “I will light you up!”