HEMPSTEAD, Texas -- A Texas state trooper has been charged with perjury for conduct related to a contentious traffic stop of a black woman who was eventually arrested for assault and then died three days later in jail.
CBS affiliate KHOU reported a grand jury indicted Trooper Brian Encinia on Wednesday with the misdemeanor charge. Encinia has been on desk duty since 28-year-old Sandra Bland was found dead in her cell in July. Her death was ruled a suicide, although her family has denied she killed herself.
Last month, the same Waller County grand jury declined to indict anyone in Bland's death.
Encinia claimed in an affidavit that Bland was "combative and uncooperative" after he pulled her over and ordered her out of her car. Dashcam video shows the traffic stop quickly became confrontational, with Encinia holding a stun gun and yelling, "I will light you up!"
Bland can later be heard off-camera screaming that he's about to break her wrists and complains that he knocked her head into the ground.
Encinia's affidavit stated he "removed her from her vehicle to further conduct a safer traffic investigation," but grand jurors "found that statement to be false," said Shawn McDonald, one of five special prosecutors appointed to investigate.
Hours after his indictment, the Texas Department of Public Safety said it would "begin termination proceedings" against Encinia.
"We won't get into specifics of the evidence, we can't do that. We can tell you that everything we've gotten, we've shown to the grand jury. That includes dash cam footage. That includes footage from the jail. That includes everything we've received," special prosecutor Lewis White told KHOU.
"The important thing is to be thorough and to get it right. That's what we intend to do," special prosecutor Pheobe Smith told the station.
Bland's mother has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court in Houston against the trooper, the Texas Department of Public Safety, Waller County and two jail employees. State lawyers have asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit.