A Texas state trooper has been indicted by a grand jury on a perjury charge in relation to his arrest of Sandra Bland prior to her death in custody, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Brian Encinia pulled Bland over in Waller County in July for failing to signal a lane change, and then arrested her for assaulting a public servant. Three days after her arrest, Bland was found hanging in her Waller County jail cell. Bland’s arrest and death have become part of a ongoing and heated national debate over the treatment of African Americans by law enforcement.
According to a special prosecutor, the misdemeanor charge resulted from Encinia’s report that he pulled Bland out of her car in order to continue his investigation. The grand jury determined the statement to be false, the prosecutor said.
Dashcam footage of Bland’s traffic stop shows the officer threatening the 28-year-old woman with a stun gun while she was still in her car, and yelling, “I will light you up!” Encinia has been on desk duty after he was found in violation of the Texas Department of Public Safety’s standards.
Bland’s death was ruled a suicide by a county coroner.
Encinia could face up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. The charge comes after the same grand jury declined last month to indict any Waller County jail staff following an investigation into her death.
Bland’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Encinia, two jailers, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and Waller County; a judge has set Jan. 23, 2017 as the date for that trial.