Roland Martin talks to former Dallas County Prosecutor Yodit Tewolde, about the latest in the case of Sandra Bland, the Illinois woman who was found dead in a Texas jail after being arrested for a traffic violation.
New dashcam video shows that the state trooper, now identified asBrian Encinia, saw Bland pulling out of a parking lot minutes after he gave another driver a ticket. The trooper U-turned and sped up to pull behind her and she pulled to the side. Watch above for the full dashcam video. The confrontation starts at 6:30 in the video.
“Everything from after the fact of him requesting her to get out of that vehicle was completely inappropriate. You have the first amendment right to record an officer as long as you’re not interfering,” says Tewolde. “It isn’t in the law per se, but you need probable cause. You need to believe that someone is committing a crime. Smoking a cigarette is not committing a crime. Having an attitude is not committing a crime,” says Tewolde.
Bland has the First Amendment right to record a police office, says Tewolde. But she does say that it may not be the best idea to do so if your phone is in the officer’s face or if you are interfering with the officer’s duty. That goes for the bystander video as well – a bystander has a right to tape an arrest.
Tewolde says there was little attempt by the officer to deescalate the situation. The officer has been placed on administrative leave and his supervisors have said that he violated the department’s “courtesy” policy.
We know what happened in the arrest, but still don’t know what happened in the jail, which is where Bland died. At this point, although initial accounts determined the death as a suicide reports from an independent autopsy are pending and the investigation is currently being considered a murder investigation.