CHICAGO (CBS) — A CBS 2 exclusive: The police officer who arrested Chicagoan Sandra Bland speaks.
The traffic stop made national headlines when Bland died in a Texas jail cell in 2015.
CBS 2’s Dave Savini investigates.
The dashcam video of the Trooper stopping Bland shows an escalating situation.
“Are you done?” Trooper Brian Encinia says to Bland.
Encinia was questioned three months after the stop, in October 2015, by the Texas Public Safety Inspector General’s Office. KXAN-TV obtained the audio.
“I had decided to issue a warning from the beginning of the traffic stop,” Encinia says in the interview.
But he never told Bland that she was just getting a warning. On the audio, Encinia is asked if he could have de-escalated the situation by telling Bland she was not getting a ticket.
“I think things could have been handled differently,” Encinia says.
The situation escalated when the trooper told Bland to put out her cigarette — without explanation.
“I’m in my car. Why do I have to put out my cigarette,” Bland asks in the dashcam video of the confrontation.
The trooper says: “Well, you can step on out now.”
During the investigative interview, Encinia insists he was not agitated: “We were taught to be impartial and unbiased. I was not agitated or upset.”
But situation continued to escalate, and Encinia threatened to use a Taser.
“I will light you up. Get out. Now,” Encinia says to Bland.
When asked about his words, Encinia later said: “I believe I could’ve used better terminology in order to articulate a Taser deployment.”
Encinia repeatedly told the IG’s office he was concerned with Bland’s movements.
“I had already observed Miss Bland making numerous furtive movements, including disappearing from view,” he told the IG’s office.
Encinia was asked if he thought something was going on, why didn’t he ask Bland more questions?
“I’m not sure, sir,” Encinia replies.
He also repeatedly said: “My safety was in jeopardy at more than one time.”
Attorney Cannon Lambert represents the Bland family.
“The dash cam video showed that Mr. Encinia didn’t have a fear in the world,” Lambert says. “He was trying to exert his power. He was trying to exert his force.”
The dashcam video shows Bland telling the trooper: “Don’t touch me. I’m not under arrest.”
Encinia says: “You are under arrest”.
Bland asks: “I’m under arrest, for what?”
Investigators say Bland asked, six times, why she was being arrested, but Encinia did not tell her.
CBS 2 reached out to the trooper through his attorney but did not get a response.
Encinia was fired and gave up his license to be a police officer — part of a deal to avoid perjury charges.