The arrest of Sandra Bland may leave many questions and has left the masses confused once again. During the past two years many folks have marched in various cities, following grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City that failed to indict police officers who killed citizens, a frequent sign that can be seen, carried by protesters, is: “Black lives matter. “Yes, in truth the case of Sandra Bland defiantly in spirit -highlights the true nature of the problem on the public streets of urban America. It is very likely that, as often alleged, while laws need to change for everyone-but blacks in urban cities are disproportionately stopped and harassed by police more often than whites or others. This, however, is not the full picture of the harassment and threats that occur on urban sidewalks-it goes much deeper.
But, singular as it may seem, there is no turning back from the fact that laws of our country are on a collision course with change. Our government has to determine all of the problems and flaws within the race oriented system and the criminal justice system problem they are confronted. To put it more directly, no doubt-the criminal justice system issue is a serious problem in the United States!
Video: I decided to add a laundry list of possible violations of Bland rights.
After my review of the video I decided to add a laundry list of possible violations of Bland’s constitutional rights. Ms. Bland was an African-American from the Chicago area who had come to Texas for a job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University, was arrested after she was stopped July 10, 2015 for failure to signal a lane change. This list doesn’t necessarily mean that the courts will find the officer coerced, forced or lied in the statement or anything else with his report about the incident. But if the courts rule that he did act out of policy, not only is the statement inadmissible, but so too is any evidence that the police obtain as the result of it. I’m hard pressed to find in most of the video, where the officer had the level of control that his training should have dictated.
When the officer demanded loudly that Sandra Bland step out of her vehicle, Bland knew her rights and asked “Why am I being apprehended?” to which the officer simply replied, “I am giving you a lawful order” without articulating any reasonable suspicion of a crime. (Neither the stun gun nor the confrontation over the cigarette was mentioned in Trooper Encinia’s incident report according to police statement.) Why!!
It doesn’t matter whether an interrogation occurs in a jail, at the scene of a crime, on a busy downtown street, or the middle of an open field: If a person is in custody (deprived of his or her freedom of action in any significant way), the police must read the Miranda rights if they want to ask questions and use the answers as evidence at trial.
If someone is not in police custody, however, no Miranda warning is required and anything the person says can be used at trial. Police officers often avoid arresting people—and make it clear to them that they’re free to go—precisely so they don’t have to give the Miranda warning. Then they can arrest the suspect after getting the incriminating statement they wanted all along.
For more detail on these issues, see Miranda: The Meaning of ‘Custodial Interrogation.
Do you have to respond to police questions if you haven’t been arrested? Generally, no. (You typically don’t have to answer even if you’re under arrest.) A police officer generally cannot arrest a person simply for failure to respond to questions. (There are, however, situations where you might have to provide information like identification.
Video: I also decided to add a laundry list of possible violations on the video.
The video showed the officer pulling Ms. Bland over and their encounter escalating into a physical altercation in which he threatened her with a stun gun.
“I will light you up,” the trooper said, pointing the stun gun at her.
The video also confirmed an account from the family’s lawyer that the confrontation between Ms. Bland and the trooper, Brian T. Encinia, escalated after she refused his order to put out a cigarette.
But this conflicts with Officer Encinia’s seeming lies of omission in both his report and in his verbal recap to the Texas DPS dispatch.
- In fact, in frame 23:24 Officer Encinia claimed that he tried to de-escalate the situation when he encountered an unarmed woman with half of his body mass with a taser in hand.
Video: Minutes 23 through 24 the Officer produces a serious of incorrect statements that I subjectively one could conclude as lies.
Video: 25 though 34.05 video shows credible evidence of technical difficulties suggesting the possibility of editing or some undisclosed technical error combination
The audio sounds like a continuous stream of discussion between dispatch or phone and Officer Encinia, the video below shows the tow truck driver leaving his car multiple times without going back to the cab of his wrecker. The same vehicles can clearly be seen to pass multiple times. It is unknown at this time if the irregularities signal intentional editing, technical difficulties or a combination of both. A lot can happen in 2 minutes.
Other Problematic areas with this story.
Jim Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, speaks with Texas Standard about the footage of the arrest, point-by-point. Here’s a transcript of the conversation, edited for brevity and clarity:
The trooper asks, “You mind putting out your cigarette please?” And Ms. Bland says, “Well, I’m in my car – why do I have to put out my cigarette?” Does she have to put out her cigarette?
No, she doesn’t have to put out her cigarette. And you wonder why the officer is even bothering with that. This is part of his escalation of the whole event that unfolded, unfortunately.
The next part: “Step out of the car.” Ms. Bland says, “You do not have the right.” He interrupts – “I do have the right, step out of the car or I will remove you.” Does he have the right, first, to order her to step out of the car? And second, to actually physically remove her from the car?
He does not have the right to say, get out of the car. He has to express some reason. ‘I need to search your car,’ or, whatever; he needs to give a reason. He can’t just say ‘get out of the car’ for a traffic offense.
Ms. Bland says, “I refuse to talk to you other than to identify myself.” Is she right or wrong.
She’s right. Unfortunately, officers don’t like it when you know the law. In this case, even if you are right, you are still in danger. And that’s what we see unfolding here.
The trooper says, “I am giving you a lawful order.” Now, is the lawful order to extinguish the cigarette, or to get out of the car, or neither.
Certainly, telling her to put out the cigarette was not a lawful order.
Just saying ‘Get out of the car,’ in and of itself, without an explanation, is not lawful. And you see him say that throughout the video without ever saying why [or] what’s .
It’s clear to me that he’s trying to assert authority that he probably does not have under the law, and he’s escalating the situation because he is upset. [He] doesn’t exercise the training that he needs to be exercising to de-escalate this situation.
“I’m gonna yank you out of here,” is what the trooper says. Can he physically “yank” her out of her vehicle?
He can’t do that either, unless she’s posing a threat to his welfare and safety. What he should have done was just wait for backup, if he couldn’t de-escalate it himself. But you don’t just pull somebody out of the car, and point that taser in her face. What if it had gone off? She’d have permanent brain damage.
She says, “Dont touch me, I’m not under arrest.” Trooper says, “You are under arrest. She says, “Under arrest for what?” He then turns to his shoulder-mounted radio, and asks for another unit. Does he have an obligation as a law enforcement officer to tell her why she is under arrest?
Yes. He needs to – it’s not clear to her what’s going on. He needs to tell her, ‘You’re under arrest because …,’ but you can’t really tell her that.
Because you can’t tell from the video that there’s any reason to have her under arrest.
She asserts her right to record this with her cell phone. That’s a right that has been clearly established. Is that true?
- She has a right to do that. But that’s another example where the officer perceives this as a challenge to his authority – and it further escalates the whole scenario.
When he says “get out of the car, or I will light you up,” he is apparently referring to the use of a taser. Is that a legitimate threat? Is that something that’s okay for officers to do in that situation?
No – here’s the situation where he is clearly violating her constitutional rights.
This is excessive force on the part of the officer – to take that taser and point it in her face and say, “I’m going to harm you.”
Taser is the last recourse to a gun. And if he can’t get her out, he can’t de-escalate it, he’s got to wait for another officer to come and talk through this.
Right now, the trooper has been placed on administrative duty. He’s not on leave, he’s still working for DPS. It’s our understanding that there is a violation of policy here – he should not have allowed it to escalate.
We are talking about a certain level of discretion that the state apparently entrusts with its troopers. Should officers have that much discretion.
He clearly exceeded that….
The discretion here is, how do you de-escalate the situation? He could have just given her the ticket and walked away.
Just like that. But he had to go through this confrontation. Of course, there are questions of race that come up here. And the fact that this is an out-of-state car moving through the town – and we know in Texas that’s a pretty typical profiling event.
What bothers me a lot is that troopers are supposed to be the best-trained police officers we have in the state. This guy is clearly out of control – clearly shouldn’t be out on the streets dealing with people – [given] this level of escalation that he provokes.
I noted the time frames with digital Breaks (2 second drift)
8:45 – The altercation starts.
9:15 – Officer asks her to put out the cigarette, she refuses.
9:30 – Officer opens her car doors.
10:05 – Officer tells her she’s under arrest.
10:30 – Officer: “I will light you up.”
10:35 – Sandy gets out of the car.
10:44 – They leave the view of the dashcam.
12:20 – They briefly re-enter the frame.
13:20 – Struggle offscreen.
12:40 – Sandy: “You’re about to break my fucking wrist.”
13:15 – Sandy: “You’re about to break my wrist. Stop!”
14:15 – Officer tells bystander to stop filming
15:00 – Sandy claims her head was knocked into the ground.
15:50 – Sandy not heard after this point.
16:00 – Police officer claims he was kicked.
16:10 – Car is searched
22:15 – Tow truck arrives
31:05 – Officer starts talking about arrest.
32:38 – CAR DISAPPEARS
49:35 – Car is towed