Texas officials say video of Sandra Bland traffic stop not edited

Arrest Footage of Sandra Bland
Arrest Footage of Sandra Bland

The dashboard video camera of a traffic stop in Texas of a black woman later found hanging dead in her jail cell was not edited but efforts are being made to repost it, Texas officials said on Wednesday, citing technical issues.

Meanwhile, the attorney for the woman's family said in an email the family flew home to Chicago and brought back her body on the same flight in preparation for her funeral on Saturday.

The video, released publicly late on Tuesday, shows how the stop of Sandra Bland for a failure to signal a lane change quickly escalated into an altercation between her and a state trooper. Footage where a car or a tow truck driver are suddenly seen in different places or gone raised questions about whether the video had been altered.

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"The video has not been edited," Tom Vinger, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said in a statement. The department has also asked the FBI to investigate "to ensure the integrity of the video," he added.

Vinger said some of the video during a conversation between the trooper and his sergeant after the arrest of Bland was "affected in the upload and is being addressed," and that DPS was working to repost it.

Bland, a 28-year-old woman from the Chicago area, was pulled over on July 10 near Prairie View, Texas, northwest of Houston.

She was taken into custody and later found hanging in her jail cell with a plastic trash bag around her neck. Bland had been charged with assaulting an officer.

Her death was originally ruled a suicide, although officials have said they are handling it as a murder probe. But Bland's family, while acknowledging her previous struggles with depression, has dismissed the idea she was suicidal.

The state trooper, Brian Encinia, has been put on desk duty for violating protocol.

Demonstrators have protested outside the jail where Bland died, and her case has been taken up by activists who say it is the latest example of racial bias and excessive force by U.S. law enforcement. The trooper involved in the incident is white.

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The 52-minute video shows Encinia approaching the car and asking if Bland is irritated. Bland says she is upset about being stopped for such a minor issue.

The trooper later asks Bland to put out her cigarette, which she refuses to do, setting off an argument that leads to Encinia pointing a Taser at her and shouting: "I will light you up."

Bland asks at least 10 times about why she is being arrested before Encinia replies she is resisting arrest.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Susan Heavey and Lisa Lambert)

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Court records show Bland had several encounters with police in Illinois and Texas over the past decade, including repeated traffic stops and two arrests for drunk driving, one of which was dismissed.

Bland was taken to the Waller County Jail about 60 miles northwest of Houston on July 10 and found dead July 13. A Texas Rangers investigation into her death is being supervised by the FBI.

Although a medical examiner has ruled Bland's death a suicide, supporters insist she was upbeat and looking forward to a new job at Prairie View A&M University, where she graduated in 2009. Bland's family and clergy members have called for a Justice Department probe, and an independent autopsy has been ordered.

At a memorial service Tuesday night at Bland's alma mater, her mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, reiterated that she doesn't believe Bland took her own life. She also spoke of her grief, saying, "I have a baby to put in the ground."


Associated Press writer Jamie Stengle contributed to this report from Dallas.