Cannon Lambert, a lawyer who represents the Bland family, said the video, by showing Ms. Bland with a cellphone in her hand, seriously undercut the trooper’s claim that he feared for his safety as he approached the woman’s vehicle.
“What the video shows is that Encinia had no reason to be in fear of his safety,” Mr. Lambert, who represented the family in a $1.9 million legal settlement, said in a telephone interview. “The video shows that he wasn’t in fear of his safety. You could see that it was a cellphone, He was looking right at it.”
Mr. Encinia said during internal interviews with Department of Public Safety officials that he had been worried about his safety. “My safety was in jeopardy at more than one time,” he told department interviewers.The prosecuting team concluded that Mr. Encinia’s permanent ban from law enforcement was the best option because there was no certainty of obtaining a conviction on the perjury charge, one of the prosecutors said at the time... Ms. Bland’s death in a largely rural part of southeast Texas unified African-American leaders throughout the state, leading to the enactment of the Sandra Bland Act in 2017, which requires training in de-escalation techniques for all police officers, sets up protections in custody for people with mental health and substance abuse issues and requires that independent law enforcement agencies investigate jail deaths... “Get out of the car,” the officer shouts as he thrusts a Taser toward her. “I will light you up. Get out. Now.”.. Ms. Bland was pulled over near the campus of Prairie View A & M University in Waller County, where she had been planning to begin a new job, after the trooper said she failed to signal a turn. But the traffic stop became heated, and Mr. Encinia ordered Ms. Bland out of the car.
After the trooper told her to “get off the phone,” Ms. Bland responded: “I’m not on the phone. I have a right to record. This is my property.”
.. The video was released by WFAA in partnership with the nonprofit Investigative Network. Its chief reporter, Brian Collister, said the video had been in the hands of law investigators until it was obtained by his news organization. Members of Ms. Bland’s family called on Texas officials to re-examine the case after Mr. Collister showed them the video, according to the WFAA report.
.. Mr. Lambert, the family’s lawyer, told The Times that the release of the video raised questions about prosecutors’ decision not to press ahead with the perjury case, saying the recording undercut Mr. Encinia’s claim that he feared for his safety.
“So if the video showed that he had no basis of being in fear of his safety, and he lied about that, then you would think they would be using that video,” he said, calling prosecutors’ decision not pursue the case “extremely troubling.”
A team of five special prosecutors was assigned to the grand jury investigation. One of the team members Shawn McDonald, a Houston lawyer, said on Monday that he was not involved in the decision to drop the charges and pushed back at Mr. Lambert’s criticism of the team’s performance.
“For him to come back three years later is frankly quite ridiculous,” said Mr. McDonald, who added that he was “proud” of the investigation into the case.
Mr. McDonald said he first saw Ms. Bland’s video more than three years ago. “It was her cellphone so it was taken as evidence when we investigated the case,” he said.
Evidence typically was not released, he said, though a decision was made to release the trooper’s video shortly after the case began unfolding in an effort “to be transparent because of the concern everyone had with her arrest and subsequent suicide.”
Chip Lewis, a Houston lawyer who represented Mr. Encinia in the investigation, said his client was in a new career “wholly unrelated” to law enforcement, but he offered few details. “He’s working in the private sector, supporting his wife and family and living a quiet life,” Mr. Lewis said.
I’ve been reading Sojourner Truth’s famous 1851 speech, “Ain’t I a Woman.”
“I could work as much and eat as much as a man, when I could get it, and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne 13 children and seen most of them sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?”
.. When Truth asked the group of mostly white women in her audience whether she was a woman, she was not simply pointing to the hypocrisy of Western thought in which nations and “civilized” societies were built on the enslavement, murder and exploitation of women and children. Truth’s question was a provocation, a challenge to a racial structure built on the dehumanization of an entire group of human beings.
.. The barbarity of American slavery should be recalled more often, if only to truly understand the significance of its demise. It was
- the grief of losing one’s child,
- being raped,
- tortured and
- separated from your own
- family and friends at a whim.
.. It was a system that normalized and codified its everyday brutality. It was life in constant fear and punishing, exacting labor. And it was completely legal.
.. Who successfully sued a white man to get back her son.
.. For example, Truth, in fact, had only five children, not 13 — an embellishment attributed to those who later transcribed the speech for the illiterate former slave.
.. I think of her standing in a courtroom to claim her child and I remind myself that this is what freedom means.
.. I participated in the Occupy movement, during which a crossracial coalition of people from New York to Honolulu protested income inequality, gentrification, police brutality and unjust incarceration. The movement had many successes, but in its immediate aftermath we saw widespread crackdowns in cities around the country on people’s ability to interact and exist in urban outdoor spaces — policies that have aided efforts to criminalize the nation’s homeless and pre-emptively arrest other vulnerable populations.
.. In order to have hope, I have to believe that, after the backlash, things — for black Americans and other oppressed people here and around the world — will change again.
.. For black Americans, the struggle of emancipation is riddled with its failures: sharecropping, lynching, segregation, disenfranchisement and brutal, unfair treatment by the criminal justice system.
.. John Lewis said in a recent tweet, “Do not get lost in a sea of despair.
Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime.”
The episode quickly escalates from there. Officer Chris Hickman, who was training Officer Ruggiero and wearing the body camera, orders Mr. Rush to put his hands behind his back. Mr. Rush runs, and the officers chase him, eventually tackling him to the ground.
During the arrest, Mr. Rush was shocked with a Taser, choked and beaten by Officer Hickman, according to police records.
At several points, while pinned to the ground, Mr. Rush cried, “I can’t breathe!”
The camera footage also shows Officer Hickman hitting Mr. Rush on the head over and over with a closed fist, and Mr. Rush crying out in pain as he is shocked with a Taser.
.. The administrative investigations revealed that Officer Hickman had used excessive force during the arrest and that he had engaged in “rude and discourteous behavior” on four other occasions with other members of the public
.. A supervisor who responded to the scene on the night of Mr. Rush’s arrest was disciplined for unsatisfactory performance after failing to immediately disclose all of the details gleaned from interviewing Mr. Hickman and Mr. Rush, and neglecting to view the body camera footage that day.
Mr. Rush told The Citizen Times that the supervisor accused him multiple times of lying.
“She kind of yelled a little bit, saying: ‘You’re lying. You’re lying. My officer is not going to do that,’” he said.