May 7, 2019

Castro, O'Rourke call for the reopening of Sandra Bland's case

Protestor holds a portrait of Sandra Bland. Photo: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls, Beto O'Rourke and Julián Castro, on Tuesday called for the reopening of inquires into Sandra Bland's arrest and death following the release of new footage from her encounter with police during a 2015 traffic stop.

What's new: The main recording of Bland's arrest was dash-cam footage captured in a state trooper's SUV in Prairie View, Texas, but that changed on Monday when a video surfaced for the first time in an investigative report by Dallas TV station WFAA. The recording that Bland filmed on her cellphone shows former Texas state trooper Brian Encinia yelling at her to "get out of the car," before he brandished a taser and said, "I will light you up!"

What they're saying:

O'Rourke, a former Texas Democratic congressman, tweeted:

"Immediately re-open the investigation into Sandra Bland's arrest and death. There must be full accountability and justice."

Castro, a former Housing and Urban Development secretary and the mayor of San Antonio, Texas, from 2009 through 2014, went further:

"The recently released video Sandra Bland took of her own arrest provides the latest example of a police justification for the death of an unarmed black person being revealed as a flat out lie. This video is compelling proof that Trooper Encinia lied, that Sandra Bland posed no threat, and that there was no basis for her arrest. This case should be reopened and justice should finally be served."

Context: Bland, an African-American woman from Chicago, was found dead in her jail cell 3 days after the traffic stop. Her death was officially ruled a suicide, but many, including her relatives, have protested that conclusion, saying she would not have tried to kill herself. Prosecutors dropped charges against Encinia in exchange for him to resign from law enforcement.

Following the release of the new video, Bland's family attorney Cannon Lambert told the New York Times: "What the video shows is that Encinia had no reason to be in fear of his safety. The video shows that he wasn't in fear of his safety. You could see that it was a cellphone, he was looking right at it."

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