The Texas Department of Public Safety is denying the office withheld a cellphone video of the killing of Sandra Bland during a 2015 traffic stop.
Bland, 28 from just outside Chicago, used her phone to film a white state trooper who drew his taser and yelled “I will light you up!” while demanding she step outside of her car, according to the Associated Press.
Three days later, she was found hanging in her cell near Houston in a suspicious death ruled a suicide.
“The Department of Public Safety has not illegally withheld evidence from Sandra Bland’s family or her legal team,” said general counsel Phillip Adkins.
The short clip had never been seen publicly until it was aired by a Dallas-area television station. Both authorities and Bland’s family say they have never seen the clip. Bland’s family says the video further shows Trooper Brian Encinia had no reason to fear for his life. Encinia was fired after being indicted for perjury, which was dropped after he agreed never to work in law enforcement again.
On Twitter, Presidential hopefuls Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders called for accountability and criminal justice reform in response to the video’s release.
According to Democratic state Rep. Garnet Coleman at a hearing at the state Capitol, he was handed a “data dump” of four discs after asking for all evidence as chairman o the House Committee on County Affairs, and said the video’s description in the state’s investigative report was not an honest summary.
Coleman passed a “Sandra Bland Act” in 2017 which included de-escalation training and independent investigations of deaths at county jails, along with an increase in profiling data. Geneva Reed-Veal, Bland’s mother, attended the hearing but did not testify.
According to Coleman, Encinia “got off light,” accusing authorities of a lack of transparency over the clip. Texas DPS released a copy of a letter sent to Coleman in 2015 stating a “cell phone download” of Bland’s phone was enclosed. Coleman denies seeing the video or having it turned over to him.