CHICAGO (CBS) — Sandra Bland’s family said the perjury charges against the Texas state trooper who arrested her last summer are “not justice,” and that the officer should be charged with assault and battery for trying to pull Bland out of her car and pointing a Taser at her.
Trooper Brian Encinia was indicted Wednesday for allegedly lying about how he removed Bland from her vehicle during a contentious traffic stop in Waller County, Texas, last July.
“To charge this guy with a misdemeanor, a Class A misdemeanor, are you kidding me? The world is looking at this going, ‘Are you serious? Really?’” said Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal. “I’m telling you, my texts, my phone, everybody is going ‘Are they serious?’ So there’s no one who believes that this is right for the crime. It just doesn’t fit.”
Dashboard camera video of Bland’s arrest on July 10 shows Encinia informing Bland he was giving her a warning for failing to signal a lane change, but then the encounter became heated when he asked her to put out her cigarette. The two began shouting at each other, and at one point Encinia is seen holding a stun gun, and yelling at Bland, “I will light you up!” when she refused to get out of her car. Encinia later arrested Bland for battery, for allegedly kicking him.
Bland, a native of Naperville, was found dead in her jail cell three days after she was arrested.
Bland’s mother said the video of the traffic stop proves Encinia assaulted her daughter.
“The indictment should be followed by a conviction at some point, I’m going to assume, but where is the true indictment? Where is the indictment for the assault? The battery? The false arrest? Where is that?” she said.
In the video of the traffic stop, after Encinia points his Taser at Bland, the two move off camera, and Bland is heard shouting expletives at Encinia, and saying he slammed her head into the ground.
“I want to see true justice happen here, that’s what I want to see. Let’s talk about the real charges that should be going on here, okay? My daughter was slapped. Check the video out. It’s out there. It’s on YouTube. That is clear. Someone should have seen that six months ago, and it certainly shouldn’t have taken all this time now to come up with a perjury charge. Are you kidding me?” Reed-Veal said.
Bland’s mother said she’s not convinced Encinia will be convicted of the perjury charge, because she does not trust local authorities in Texas to investigate and prosecute wrongdoing by police.
“Who in the heck is going to do the prosecuting? Who’s going to prosecute this guy? Is it the same group of folks who selected the grand jury?” she asked. “I don’t trust the process, okay?”
She also blasted Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis, who has said Bland was “not a model person,” saying “he can’t be the one prosecuting the case.”
The Texas Department of Safety has begun the process to fire Encinia.
Bland, 28, was found hanged in her jail cell three days after she was arrested. A medical examiner in Texas has ruled her death a suicide, but her family has disputed that finding.
The same grand jury that indicted Encinia for perjury decided neither sheriff’s officials nor jailers committed a crime in their treatment of Bland while she was in jail.
Mathis, who appointed five special prosecutors to handle the Bland case, has said there is nothing in that investigation “that shows anything happened but she killed herself.”