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Thursday, June 20, 2024 | Back issues
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Cop Charged in Sandra Bland Case Free on Bond

HOUSTON (CN) - The Texas state trooper who arrested Sandra Bland posted bond after surrendering to police this week to face a perjury charge stemming from the arrest.

Brian Encinia, 30, surrendered on Thursday afternoon to Texas Rangers, who took him to the Waller County jail. He was released less than an hour later after posting a $2,500 bond, the Texas Tribune reported.

A Waller County grand jury charged Encinia with perjury Wednesday and hours later the Texas Department of Public Safety, or DPS, said it plans to fire him.

Special prosecutor Shawn McDonald said the charge stems from statements Encinia made in an affidavit he gave Waller County jail officials that explained why he arrested Bland.

"The indictment was issued in reference to the reason he removed her from her vehicle," McDonald said.

If convicted of the Class A misdemeanor, Encinia faces a penalty of up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

Encinia's lawyer Larkin Eakin told the Associated Press on Thursday that his client will plead not guilty and will file an appeal with DPS to contest his impending termination.

Jail officers found Bland dead in her cell on July 13, 2015. Officials said Bland, 28, had hanged herself with a plastic bag.

Bland's family and friends challenged the story, saying she had no history of depression.

Her death came three days after Encinia pulled her over for failure to signal, yanked her from her car after she refused to put out her cigarette and arrested her. Encinia said that Bland tried to kick him.

U.S. and international media picked up the story after Bland died and dashcam footage of the traffic stop went viral.

"I will light you up," Encinia screams in the video.

"You're doing all this for a failure to signal....I can't wait to go to court," Bland tells the trooper.

Eakin told the Associated Press that Encinia regretted screaming that at Bland, but the trooper got physical with Bland because he saw her reaching into her purse.

Bland's mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Encinia, DPS, Waller County and two jailers last August.

Last week, a federal judge set the trial for January 2017.

Encinia and DPS claim in court filings they should be dropped as defendants because law enforcement officers are typically immune from such lawsuits, unless plaintiffs can prove they violated a clearly established law.

Reed-Veal scoffed at the grand jury's decision to only charge Encinia with misdemeanor perjury and said at a Thursday news conference that he should also face assault and false arrest charges, PBS Newshour reported.

Bland had recently moved to Texas from Chicago to take a job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University, when Encinia pulled her over.

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