Can You Spot the Huge Problem With Dashcam Footage of Sandra Bland's Arrest?
The Texas Department of Public Safety released police dashcam footage Tuesday showing the moment police officers arrested Sandra Bland in Waller County. The film immediately came under fire for alleged editing that seems to occur at various points in the footage.
At one point during the 52-minute video, state trooper Brian Encinia demands Bland step out of her car. After Bland refuses multiple times, the altercation escalates with Encinia pulling out his taser and shouting, "Get out of the car. I will light you up," before she ultimately complies.
The altercation started heating up when Encinia asked Bland to put out her cigarette. Bland refused, telling the trooper, "I'm in my car, why do I have to put out my cigarette?" It was then that Encinia first asks her to step outside.
After leaving the vehicle, Bland is escorted to the curb while hurling expletives at Encinia. Much of the footage then moved off camera where Bland can be heard screaming, "You're about to break my wrist, stop! ... You're a real man now, you just slammed me, knocked my head into the ground, I got epilepsy, you motherfucker." Separate video taken a bystander captured some of this portion of the arrest.
Bland later died under suspicious circumstances in police custody on Sunday. A medical examiner ruled the death a suicide, while Bland's family and many others have publicly disputed the claim. Her death is now being investigated as a possible homicide.
While the dashcam video reveals an initially polite Encinia and a belligerent Bland, a number of image breaks at various points appear to indicate part of the footage seems to have been edited. In one instance, after Bland's arrest, a tow truck driver can be seen repeatedly leaving his car. In another clip, a car driving by simply vanishes off the road.
Selma director Ava DuVernay echoed that sentiment on twitter:
It was unclear Wednesday morning what, if anything, the loopy video indicates. No obvious editing appears to have taken place during the main struggle between Bland and Encinia, and the audio is consistent throughout. In a statement to Mic, the Texas Department of Public Safety denied accusations of doctoring:
The video has not been edited. To eliminate any concerns as to the efficacy of the video DPS previously requested the FBI examine the dash cam and jail video to ensure the integrity of the video. The entire video was uploaded to include the audio and video of the conversation the trooper had by telephone with his sergeant, which occurred after the arrest. Some of the video that occurred during this conversation was affected in the upload and is being addressed. We are working to repost the dash cam video. (Meanwhile, a DVD of the video will be available to the media upon request later this morning if necessary.)
While the video was released in an effort at transparency, the footage so far has raised far more questions than answers.
Watch the full video below.
July 22, 2015, 12:14 p.m.: This post has been updated.