By Alan Bean
Over a month has passed since Sandra Bland died in a Waller County jail, the story shows no sign of disappearing. The incident sparked national outrage when video of Bland’s arrest showed state trooper Brian Encinia intentionally escalating the drama with a justifiably angry Ms. Bland, threatening to “light you up” with his taser, then, once she steps out of her vehicle, throwing her to the ground with so much force that she temporarily lost her hearing. Bland was then charged with assaulting an officer and hauled off to jail. But none of this would have attracted much attention if Sandra Bland hadn’t turned up dead three days later.
Questions abound. Why, a month after his bizarre display of criminally awful police work, has officer Encinia been returned to routine patrol work? Why hasn’t he been fired and charged with assault? Even Donald Trump was appalled by Encinia’s police work–and when the Donald thinks an officer’s behavior is appalling attention must be paid. Trump is an international authority on awful behavior.
People are still asking what really happened inside Sandra Bland’s jail cell? Did she really hang herself with a trash bag? And if not, what alternative explanations are on offer?
And questions have been raised about the men charged with investigating officer Encinia (District Attorney Elton Mathis) and Bland’s peculiar death (Waller County Sheriff, Glenn Smith). Can DA Mathis watch the video of officer Encinia’s aggressive, unprofessional and ultimately criminal treatment of Ms. Bland and conclude the DPS officer did everything by the book?
And what are we to make of Glenn Smith, the bellicose sheriff who, just this week, told a United Methodist Pastor in town to investigate the case to “go back to your Church of Satan.” Smith also had a tree cut down to ensure that protesters would feel the full force of triple digit heat. Can this latter day Bull Conner be trusted with the investigation of the Bland case? (more…)