Sandra Bland’s Arresting Officer Is Cleared Of His Only Criminal Charge

by Mara Peoples

June 29, 2017

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On July 10, 2015 Sandra Bland was arrested by officer Brian Encinia in Prairie View, TX. Three days after Bland was arrested, she was found hung from ceiling in her Waller County jail cell. Her death was ruled a suicide but sparked national protests and endless debate in regards to how inmates are treated in jail.

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In December of 2015, the grand jury in Bland’s case failed to indict any of the officers that were said to have played a role in Bland’s death. In January, a jury found Encinia’s statement about what took place during Bland’s arrest to be false when dash cam footage of the encounter became public.

This past Wednesday, a Texas judge accepted prosecutors request to drop a misdemeanor perjury charge from the 2016 indictment. Encinia agreed to permanently leave law enforcement in exchange of the dismissal of the 2016 indictment.

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Private lawyer and special prosecutor in the case, Phoebe Smith“We dismissed it based on the fact that he permanently surrendered his license,” Smith said. “The bottom line is, we never wanted him to be a police officer again and we wanted to ensure that outcome. When you take a case in front of jury there’s always that risk.”

Cannon Lambert, family attorney said that the prosecutors in the case never prepared the family for their decision to purse dismissal of Encinia’s indictment. Lambert said, “It’s a shame that they didn’t take the time to contact the family ahead of their decision to do what they said they would not do,” he said. “They assured the family they would see this through. This is the reason why the community has a hard time trusting the system.”

Bland’s family received a $1.9 million settlement for the wrongful death of the 28-year-old. Texas legislators also passed the “Sandra Bland Act”, a bill that protects inmates with mental illness and provides prisoners with more access to health care.

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