Although it often occurs without further scrutiny, police are rarely indicted for giving false testimony under oath.
The 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 said it was initiating termination proceedings against Brian Encinia, the 30-year-old trooper who last July stopped Bland for failing to signal a lane change and arrested her.
Bland’s family has filed a civil lawsuit in federal court in Houston and has repeatedly criticized Waller County’s handling of Bland and the grand jury’s review of her death.
Cannon Lambert, one of the Chicago-based lawyers representing Bland’s relatives in their lawsuit, said the family still had questions.
“We just don’t understand why it took six months to charge him for lying when you can see he was lying in the videotape they have had from the very beginning,” he said. “We also don’t understand why [Encinia] wasn’t charged with assault when he said ‘I’ll light you up, and with battery for grabbing [Bland] when she was in the car.”
“Why didn’t they charge him with false arrest?” he continued. “The whole arrest was predicated on a phantom kick – why didn’t they charge him with abuse of police power — all he had to do was give her the warning.”
The charge the trooper now faces is a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted, Encinia could face up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal called the grand jury decision a “slap on the wrist.”
“What I’m looking for is for the accountability to be placed where it needs to be,” she said. “That’s what I want to see.”
The state Office of the Attorney General – which is representing Encinia in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Bland’s family against the trooper, DPS, the Waller County Sheriff’s Office, and two Waller County jailers – will not be representing him in the criminal case, according to an OAG spokeswoman.
Read the rest of the article here | Other articles from Houston Chronicle related to Sandra Bland: