The Texas State Trooper who pulled over Sandra Bland was indicted on suspicion of perjury on Wednesday.
As of now, he’s the only official criminally charged individual following Bland’s death last summer.
BREAKING: Texas Department of Public Safety to fire trooper indicted for perjury in Sandra Bland arrest.
— The Associated Press (@AP) January 7, 2016
via LA Times:
Trooper Brian T. Encinia could face a maximum of a year in jail if convicted of the misdemeanor charge, according to a Waller County district attorney’s spokesman, Warren Diepraam.
Also Wednesday, the Texas Department of Public Safety announced that it will begin proceedings to fire him from the department.
Bland, 28, who was African American, was found dead in her jail cell three days after Encinia arrested her July 10 during a routine traffic stop about 55 miles west of Houston. Her death was ruled a suicide.
Encinia pulled Bland over for making an improper lane change near the university’s entrance. The confrontation that ensued, which led to Bland’s arrest on suspicion of assaulting Encinia, was captured on a dash camera video that went viral.
Bland was taken to the Waller County jail in nearby Hempstead where she was unable to make $500 bail. Officials said hanged herself with a plastic bag.
Bland’s family and Black Lives Matter supporters questioned why she had been arrested at all, with some questioning whether she had taken her own life. At the time Bland was stopped, she had just accepted a job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University.
The grand jury’s indictment came after it decided last month that no felony was committed by the Waller County sheriff’s office or jailers in connection with Bland’s death.
Cannon Lambert, an attorney for the Bland family, had not been hopeful the grand jury would indict Encinia. He said he supported the charge but added that he thought also Encinia should have been charged with false arrest, battery and abuse of police powers.
“What I wonder is, will he still be on the job after this?” Lambert said, adding that Bland’s family still has “a lot more questions” about what happened during the secret grand jury proceedings. Her family has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Waller County.
A representative for Encinia could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday.
It’s not complete justice, but it’s progress.