Happy Birthday Sandra Bland! We Continue To Say Her Name

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Sandra Bland.
Say her name again.
Sandra Bland.
She was one of us. What happened to her could have easily happened to us. That’s why we continually say her name. Sandra Bland.Sandra Annette Bland was from a suburb of Chicago, and was one of five sisters. She attended Prairie View A&M University outside Hempstead in Waller County, Texas, where she was a member of the Sigma Gamma Rho sorority. She graduated in 2009 with a degree in agriculture. At Prairie View, she was recruited as a summer counselor for three years, played in a band, and volunteered for a senior citizens advocacy group.

Bland returned to Illinois in 2009. She worked in administration for Cook’s, a food-service equipment supplier, a job she left not long before her death. She had been due to start a temporary job on August 3, 2015, with Prairie View as a summer program associate.

“I am in my car. Why do I have to put out my cigarette?” Bland said.

“You can step on out now,” Encinia replied.

Bland refused to get out of her car. The trooper opened her door and tried to pull her out of the vehicle.

In the video, Encinia told Bland she was under arrest. She repeatedly asked why. The trooper did not answer, other than to say, “I am giving you a lawful order.”

At one point, after Encinia aimed what appeared to be a Taser at Bland, she stepped out of her car. Later, she can be heard saying: “You’re a real man now. You just slammed me, knocked my head in the ground.”

In the arrest warrant, Encinia said Bland was out of control, calling her “combative and uncooperative.”

“Bland began swinging her elbows at me and then kicked my right leg in the shin,” Encinia said in the statement. “Force was used to subdue Bland to the ground, to which Bland continued to fight back.”

But that wasn’t the truth.

In a 2019 video from Blands own phone that got released FOUR YEARS after her death shows something different. The 39-second clip, unearthed by Dallas-Fort Worth news channel WFAA, shows the altercation between Bland and former state trooper Brian Encinia during a traffic stop. It is the first video to show part of the incident from Bland’s point of view after police dashboard video was released shortly after Bland’s death.

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HEMPSTEAD, TX – JULY 10: In this handout photo provided by the Waller County Sherrif’s Office, Sandra Bland poses for a mug shot at the County Jail July 10, 2015 in Hempstead, Texas. An investigation is ongoing into Bland’s death while in police custody. (Photo by Waller County Sherrif’s Office via Getty Images)

It shows Encinia leaning into Bland’s vehicle and taking out his Taser shortly after he had

pulled her over for allegedly failing to indicate a change of lanes. As Encinia unholsters his Taser, its lights flash on, and he points it at Bland and he shouts: “Get out of the car! I will light you up. Get out!”

Bland leaves her car and continues to record the trooper as he orders her on to the sidewalk. The Taser remains pointed at her and he shouts again, telling her to get off her phone. Bland replies: “I’m not on the phone. I have a right to record. This is my property.”

The video ends shortly after as the camera faces the floor.

Bland died three days after her arrest at the Waller county jail. It was ruled a suicide after she was found hanging in her cell.

The Bland family lawyer, Cannon Lambert, who settled a lawsuit against authorities implicated during the incident for $1.9m, said he had not seen the footage until it was obtained by local news. But the Texas department of public safety stated the footage had been released as a part of the legal discovery process during litigation.

Texas state representative Garnet Coleman, a Democrat, said: “It is troubling that a crucial piece of evidence was withheld from Sandra Bland’s family and legal team in their pursuit of justice.”

“The video makes it abundantly clear there was nothing [Sandra] was doing in that car that put him at risk at all,” Lambert said.

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LISLE, IL – JULY 25: Daija Belcher, 5, holds a sign in front of the DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church during the funeral service for Sandra Bland on July 25, 2015 in Lisle, Illinois. Bland’s death roused suspicion nationwide after the 28-year-old was found hanging from a plastic bag three days after she was pulled over by a Texas State Trooper for a traffic violation. (Photo by Jonathan Gibby/Getty Images)

Reprinted with permission of BlackDoctor.org.

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