On Friday, Texas officials denied withholding a cellphone video of Sandra Bland’s confrontational traffic stop.
The denial came after a Democratic legislator grilled authorities about why the 39-second video clip never publicly surfaced until recently. The 28-year-old Chicago-area native had reportedly used her phone in 2015 to record a white state trooper as he drew his stun gun and yelled, “I will light you up!” while ordering her out of her car.
Three days later, Bland was found hanging in a jail cell. Her death was ruled a suicide. "The Department of Public Safety has not illegally withheld evidence from Sandra Bland's family or her legal team," Phillip Adkins, general counsel of the department, stated.
The video’s existence was not known by the general public until it was aired this month by a Dallas television station. Both Bland’s family and lawmakers claimed they had never seen the clip and say it proves Trooper Brian Encinia had no reason to fear for his life.
Democratic State Representative Garnet Coleman says he never received the cell phone video despite requesting all evidence as chairman of the House Committee on County Affairs. He claims he was given a jumbled “data dump” with a dishonest account of Bland’s cell phone video in the state’s investigative report.
Encinia was fired after being indicted for perjury. He says he feared for his safety after stopping Bland for failing to signal a lane change. The perjury charge would eventually be dropped if Encinia agreed never to work in law enforcement again.