Yet another police brutality case has brought about questions, in the case of a U.S. citizen who dared to oppose a law enforcement official. Sandra Bland was driving in her car and made a lane change without signaling. She was pulled over by a Texas state trooper, Brian Encinia earlier this month.
The details in this case are surfacing incrementally, at the demand of the public. Many believe that there is a cover up regarding the “suicide” of Sandra Bland. One major detail that has been released by the Waller County sheriff’s department and coroner’s office states that Sandra Bland had 3 times the body’s limit of marijuana in her system, according to the autopsy. They also allege that she obtained this high dose of marijuana while in the Waller County jail. Apparently, the alleged high consumption of marijuana in Ms. Bland’s system caused the suicidal tendencies and she allegedly hung herself with a trash bag. Though the coroner released the suicide determination, the details offered are still highly questionable. Where would she have obtained such a large amount of marijuana in plain view of armed sheriffs and deputies? How would she have consumed 18 micrograms per liter of THC, unnoticed (in sheriff’s custody), when marijuana has not been legalized in the state of Texas? Sandra Bland’s family has vehemently shot down the coroner’s “suicide” determination and they demand a formal investigation by the Department of Justice. Her sister, Sharon Cooper, said that she was very excited about moving to Texas and starting her new job; she wouldn’t commit suicide. These and other questions are being asked and answers provided by Waller county officials are sketchy, at best.
The climbing number of cases of police brutality against citizens has sparked anger and even threats of retaliation by activist groups such as Anonymous. Waller County officials are dismissing the Anonymous statements as “conspiracy theory,” while others are using the facts to question the mounting series of unsubstantiated claims by the Department. One fact in this case is clear: Sandra Bland was not a violent criminal who was attempting to attack an armed officer. She was an unarmed United States citizen and native of Illinois, who had just moved to Texas for a new job. Another notable fact is that she recited her Fourth Amendment Constitutional right to “be secure in her persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated.” Smoking a cigarette in one’s own personal vehicle is not a crime, nor a suspicious act that would warrant an assault by a law enforcement official.
Officer Encinia’s patrol car camera shows that he almost immediately demanded that Bland extinguish her cigarette. She protested, reminding him that it is not illegal for her to smoke in her car and that she is only required, by law, to identify herself. He became indignant and escalated what should have been a simple traffic stop. The videos of the interaction between Sandra Bland and Officer Encinia have gone viral on YouTube. Funeral services for Miss Bland were held yesterday (see pictures).