Trooper charged with lying about Sandra Bland arrest surrenders to Texas Rangers

By Doug G. Ware  |  Jan. 7, 2016 at 7:51 PM
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HOUSTON, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- The Texas state trooper who stopped and arrested Sandra Bland three days before she died in jail last July surrendered to authorities Thursday, one day after a grand jury charged him with perjury in the case.

Brian Encinia turned himself in to the Texas Rangers Thursday afternoon, authorities said, was booked on the Class A misdemeanor perjury charge and released on a $2,500 bond. His surrender came one day after a grand jury indicted him on that charge.

To date, Encinia, 30, has been the only person involved in Bland's death to be charged.

Bland was pulled over by Encinia on July 10 for allegedly making an improper lane change. Dashboard camera footage showed an altercation between the two after the trooper had asked Bland to put out her cigarette and exit the vehicle.

At one point during the incident, Encinia is seen on the video threatening to use a stun gun on Bland, saying, "I will light you up. Get out!"

Encinia was placed on administrative leave following the incident and the Texas Department of Public Safety said Thursday it has started the process of firing him for the indictment.

Three days after the traffic stop, Bland, 28, was found dead in a Waller County jail cell. A medical examiner ruled the death a suicide but relatives don't believe that's what happened. The family has since filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the matter.

Specifically, the grand jury said it didn't believe Encinia's version of events about the traffic stop and charged him with one count of perjury. If convicted, Encinia could spend up to a year in jail and pay a $4,000 fine.

"A Class A misdemeanor, I can't be expected to be excited about that, because I feel there's so much more that he should have been indicted on," Geneva Reed-Veal, Bland's mother, said at a news conference Thursday.

During a legislative inquiry in July, Texas Department of Public Safety director Steven McCraw criticized Encinia for his actions during the stop and said he violated department policy, behaved rudely and failed to de-escalate the situation.

Texas Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, said during the inquiry that Encinia was the "catalyst" that ultimately resulted in Bland's death.

"What he did triggered the whole thing," he said.

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