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The Tragedy of Sandra Bland and Her Wrongful Arrest

Twenty-eight-year-old university graduate Sandra Bland should not have died in a Texas police cell. She should never have even been arrested in the first place. She should have been issued a traffic ticket or a warning, and then gone on her merry way.

If you watch the above video, you will see for yourself how a minor traffic infringement in Texas on July 10 got way out of control.

After being forcefully arrested, Bland was found dead in a police cell three days later.

Image from Sandra Bland's LinkedIn account

Image from Sandra Bland’s LinkedIn account

Much of the responsibility of what occurred on the roadside falls at the feet of the Texas state trooper in question, Brian Encinia. Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw told CNN that there are certain procedures that police must follow in such incidences, and that Encinia did not comply with them.

“A DPS state trooper has an obligation to exhibit professionalism and be courteous throughout the entire contact, and that wasn’t the case in this situation,” McCraw added.

Below is the longer version of the incident taken by the dash cam:

Seth Stoughton, an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law, told NPR that there were a couple of failures made by the trooper.

“The first is the officer’s approach to Miss Bland’s irritation. He had the opportunity to connect and try and mitigate any of the tension of that encounter, and he didn’t. He was very dismissive of her,” said Stoughton, who was also a former police officer.

“When he requested that she put out the cigarette and she did not, then he became confrontational. At that point, he demanded that she leave the vehicle. By exercising his authority confrontationally and by doing it in a way that stripped her of power in the interaction, he potentially exacerbated a situation where confrontation was entirely avoidable,” said Stoughton.

And it was Bland’s right to express herself about what was occurring.

“We have very broad First Amendment protections that allow individuals, civilians, to express themselves, including expressing themselves to officers,” Stoughton said.

“Where it crosses the legal line is refusing to comply with an officer’s lawful command, and then we’re back to that distinction between request and command,” he added.

Bland was later found dead in a police cell on July 13, three days after her roadside arrest. See related video about that below:

A medical examiner ruled Bland’s death was suicide by asphyxiation. Her family says she would have never committed such an act, and that she had a lot to live for, such as a new job at Prairie View A&M University. Public protests demanding answers have followed. Bland herself was also a Black Lives Matter activist, reports ABC News.

The Texan Rangers and the FBI are now investigating Bland’s death as a possible homicide. Encinia, the trooper who arrested Bland, has been assigned administrative duties while the investigations are being carried out.

See Bland talking about Black Lives Matters in this video below, which was made in April this year:

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