Brian Encinia, the Texas state trooper who arrested Sandra Bland, has been indicted on a perjury charge, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Bland, an African-American woman, was found dead in her cell three days after being arrested, accused of failing to use her turn signal July 10. She was 28.
Her family has maintained she should never have been arrested and would never kill herself. Police said she hanged herself with a plastic bag in her cell. The case raised questions of excessive police force and the role of race in police interactions.
Special prosecutor Shawn McDonald said Wednesday outside the courthouse that “the indictment was issued in reference to the reasoning that (Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia) removed her from her vehicle.”
He explained the grand jury didn’t believe Encinia’s statement that he took her from the car she was driving so he could conduct a safer traffic investigation.
The penalty for perjury, a Class A misdemeanor, is up to a year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine.
The Texas Department of Public Safety said after the indictment was announced that it will begin termination proceedings against the trooper.
In the arrest warrant in her case, Encinia said Bland was out of control, calling her “combative and uncooperative.”
Encinia wrote that Bland was placed under arrest “for Assault on a Public Servant.”
Last month, a grand jury declined to indict anyone in her jailhouse death.
The case received national attention after video of her arrest and news of her death became public.
In late July, authorities in Waller County released hours of jail video in an effort to knock down the idea Bland was dead before she was brought to jail.
The first video of the arrest contained problems, which raised a number of questions. In parts of the footage, the video was looped while the officer’s audio continued uninterrupted.
There were moments when a car or wrecker driver appeared in the frame, suddenly disappeared, and then appeared again.
A Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman chalked the inconsistencies up to a technical issue, and a new version of the video, which did not have the same problems, was later released.
Waller County is northwest of Houston.