​Were the trooper's actions in Sandra Bland's arrest justified?

WASHINGTON --Texas Trooper Brian Encinia has been placed on administrative duty pending an investigation into his arrest of Sandra Bland.

Bland, 28, was pulled over by Encinia for failure to signal a lane change. Three days after the arrest, she was found hanging in her jail cell. Authorities have ruled the Illinois woman's death a suicide, but Bland's family is disputing the conclusion.

Encinia's arrest was captured on his cruiser's dashcam video, which shows Encinia yelling at Bland after she appears to be uncooperative.

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Ron Hosko, former FBI assistant director
CBS News

Ron Hosko is former assistant director of the FBI and now runs a legal defense fund for police officers. CBS News had him look at the video of Bland's arrest in which Encinia demands she step out of the car.

When asked if it was a reasonable response from the officer, Hosko said it's important to consider all aspects of the situation.

"There may be other factors he's aware of that he thinks the combination of things make her dangerous to him," said Hosko.

Hosko said he thinks most courts would say Bland's resistance and her failure to put out a cigarette would not be enough to lead a trooper to ask her to step out of the car.

"It's incumbent on this officer to understand de-escalation, to use verbal techniques, or to learn when to just back away, to slow down the situation," said Hosko.

Hosko said there doesn't seem to be de-escalation on either Bland's or Encinia's part. At one point Enicnia yells at Bland, telling her to, "Get out of the car! I will light you up!"

After Bland's repeated refusals to follow orders, Hosko said Encinia's yelling may have been justified.

"That level of force, displaying a taser, or pointing it at her doesn't necessarily mean he's going to use it," said Hosko. "He's trying to get compliance."

Hosko said by and large you can't get arrested for sassing a cop, although he admits that officers have arrested people for it.

Hosko advises people to contest that type of encounter with police later in the presence of their attorney.

We asked him to consider the current racial climate where a black woman may fear being encountered by a white officer in a small southern town.

"I understand that, but if we start painting all of our citizens in that way to include the police, that's a mistake," said Hosko. "That opens the door for everybody to say I'll determine whether I'm under arrest or not."

  • Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.