Brain Encinia, the Texas state trooper who arrested Sandra Bland last July on a traffic violation, was indicted this week by a Waller County grand jury on a perjury charge and has subsequently been fired.
Bland, 28, was found dead in her jail cell three days after the confrontation and arrest when officials found her hanging from a noose made out of a trash bag, the Houston Chronicle reported
. A medical examiner ruled the death a suicide, but authorities were criticized for the handling of the case after video of Encinia's Bland stop went public.
According to the Chronicle, the video shows 30-year-old Encinia pull Bland over for failing to signal a lane change. The incident ended in her arrest after she refused to put out a cigarette, "with Encinia at one point brandishing a stun gun and yelling at Bland, 'I will light you up!'" the newspaper said.
The grand jury reportedly focused on a statement Encinia made in the affidavit he filed after the arrest in which he claimed he pulled the woman out of the vehicle to "further conduct a safe traffic investigation."
"They just didn't believe it," Special Prosecutor Darrell Jordan told the Chronicle of the grand jury's indictment on a perjury charge.
Encinia also claimed in the arrest warrant that Bland was out of control, "combative, and uncooperative," according to CNN
. He cited assault on a public servant as the reason for the arrest.
Encinia could serve a year in jail and pay up to $4,000 in fines if convicted of the Class A misdemeanor, CNN noted.
"[Encinia] was surprised [by the indictment] obviously, because he does not feel anything was misleading in his report," his attorney Larkin Eakins told the Houston Chronicle.
After the decision was handed down Wednesday, the Texas Department of Public Safety said it was initiating termination proceedings against Encinia, who had previously been placed on administrative duty.
Bland's mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, told the Chronicle that she believes the indictment was a "slap on the wrist."
"What I'm looking for is for the accountability to be placed where it needs to be," she said. "That's what I want to see."
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