Hempstead, Texas - All charges have been dismissed against former State Trooper Brian Encinia relating to the death of Sandra Bland. Encinia was indicted by a grand jury more than a year ago for perjury after they determined that there was probable cause that he lied in his report about the traffic stop.
Waller County district Judge Albert McCraig on Wednesday dismissed the charges at the request of the prosecutors. After some time and distance they were apparently able to see that their case was unwinnable.
“This is the product of cooler heads, time, and my presentation of the objective evidence to reach the right decision,” Brian Encinia's lawyer, Chip Lewis told the American Statesman. He added that the grand jury's decision to indict was based on emotion, rather then an objective look at the evidence.
As part of an agreement for the charges being dismissed, Brian Encinia agreed never to pursue a law enforcement career again. He reportedly lost interest in law enforcement after being touted by social justice warriors as the face of police brutality.
At the time he was indicted, Bland's mother, who has been made a millionaire thanks to Texas taxpayers, was reportedly furious that Encinia has only been charged with perjury.
The family is reportedly more upset that charges were dismissed without the prosecutor explaining to them first that charges should never have been filed in the first place.
The Sandra Bland incident happened after she was stopped for a traffic violation and refused to follow the orders of the state trooper who was conducting the traffic stop. She had a lit cigarette and the trooper asked her to put it out as part of a safety concern that the agitated woman might try to burn him.
When Bland refused, the trooper ordered her out of the car, which is well within the authority of police officers (see Pennsylvania v Mimms.) She refused to follow the orders to get out of the car, which is a criminal offense.
Sandra Bland then assaulted the trooper as he tried to remove her from the car, and she resisted arrest throughout the contact.
Encinia then wrote in his report that he had told Bland to exit her car for safety reasons, which is apparent in the dash camera video, and that she was combative and uncooperative, which is also apparent in the video. Despite his report appearing to match what played out in the dash camera video, prosecutors tried to pick apart his words to claim that he wasn't really honest.
While Brian Encinia's actions were entirely lawful, there was a question if he should have just made the decision to ignore the cigarette, give her the ticket, and walk away. The Texas Department of Public Safety fired Encinia after deciding that he acted inappropriately, or possibly just from political pressure.
After Sandra Bland was arrested and booked into jail, she was found dead in her cell after she hung herself. The incident resulted in widespread conspiracy theories that police actually murdered Sandra Bland and hanged her because she's black.
Sandra Bland's family has denied that she was ever depressed or suicidal, despite Bland's admission to jail staff that she had been suicidal in the past.
The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit and were awarded a $1.9 million settlement payment.
In addition to the payment, Waller county agreed to changes in their operations as well. The changes include installing electronic sensors to ensure timely checks on cells, having on-duty medical personnel for all shifts, and increased training.
The county judge also agreed to personally press for state legislation to increase funding for training at jails across the state.