A now-fired Texas trooper has just pleaded not guilty to a charge of misdemeanor perjury stemming from his arrest last summer of Sandra Bland, an African American woman who was later found dead in a county jail.
Brian Encinia entered the plea during his appearance before a Waller County judge as protesters gathered outside the courthouse in Hempstead, Texas which is about 50 miles northwest of Houston.
One of the protesters held a sign that read: “What happened to Sandra Bland?”
There were also about 20 to 25 protesters who could be heard yelling “Tell the truth” and “Sandra still speaks,” directed their chanting at Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith who was nearby and filmed speaking with reporters.
Video of the traffic stop shows Trooper Encinia drawing his stun gun and telling Bland, “I will light you up!”
Sandra can later be heard off-camera screaming that the trooper was about to break her wrists. She can also be heard complaining that he smashed her head into the ground.
But Encinia’s affidavit claims that he “removed her from her vehicle to further conduct a safer traffic investigation.”
Now grand jurors found that statement to be false, according to prosecutors.
Bland’s relatives have filed a wrongful death lawsuit.
“I want an opportunity to allow accountability to be shown,” Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, a Chicago-area resident said. “I want answers as to what happened to my daughter, but I still want it to happen in God’s way.”
Cannon Lambert, the attorney for the family, said “The family wanted to make clear that their expectations are that (authorities) prosecute him fully and seek the mandatory sentence.”
“The family is in no way interested in a plea, and the family understands they don’t have the authority to force the prosecutors to do what the family wants but they wanted them to be clear exactly what the family is seeking.”