Brian Encinia, the officer who pulled Sandra Bland over in 2015, was the only one brought up on charges in connection to her arrest and eventual death in police custody. He faced a charge of perjury after giving false information as to why he took her out of her car that day. He claimed it was to conduct a safe traffic investigation, while dashcam footage told a very different story.
Instead of going to trial to face his actions, Encinia was offered a deal by prosecutors that many will surely criticize. In exchange for the dismissal of his misdemeanor charge, Encinia agreed to never become a law enforcement officer again, according to CNN.
“The prosecutor didn’t even reach out to the family to notify them that they were looking to cut this deal,” Cannon Lambert, the family’s attorney, Lambert said.
“What was gained — him never being an officer anymore, would have been gained by a conviction. They gave up a chance to seek justice and got nothing.”
Bland’s family is justifiably frustrated with the decision to not hold a single persona accountable for Sandra’s death. Local authorities still contest that she committed suicide while in custody despite public speculation that she was killed.
“In September, we were expecting to be in Texas sitting in the courtroom, but today they cut him a deal,” Bland’s sister, Shante Needham, told the Houston Chronicle. “Why? Why? Why? Why did you cut him a deal when you sat in our faces and you seen our pain and you told us you were going to take it to court?”
Encinia’s attorney, Chip Lewis, and prosecutors both feel that the deal was fair for both sides. Lewis is glad that his client won’t have to go to trial and attests that he wouldn’t possibly consider going back into law enforcement following his experiences. Prosecutors feel that keeping him off of the streets with a badge and gun is enough of a victory.
State lawmakers recently passed a watered down version of the Sandra Bland Act, which is meant to encourage de-escalation techniques and enhance holding facilities in the area. However, the version that was passed lacks some important factors that community members felt would’ve really helped.