Perjury case dropped against ex-trooper in Sandra Bland case

HEMPSTEAD, Texas (AP) — A judge dismissed a misdemeanor perjury charge against a fired Texas state trooper Wednesday in a case arising from his 2015 arrest of Sandra Bland, a black woman who was later found dead in a county jail.

The charge against Brian Encinia was dropped after he agreed to surrender his state law enforcement license and certification and to never again seek work in law enforcement in any capacity, according to court documents. Encinia also agreed to never seek to have the charge against him expunged.

If he violates the agreement, he faces having the case against him renewed, according to the documents.

“Brian and his family appreciate the thoughtful review by the prosecutors,” Encinia’s attorney, Chip Lewis, said in a statement. “Dismissal was the right thing to do.”

An attorney for Bland’s family, Tom Rhodes, didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

State Rep. Garnet Coleman criticized the dismissal.

“It is upsetting that the prosecutors decided to drop the charge of perjury against Trooper Encinia,” Coleman, a Democrat from Houston, said in a statement. “The trooper’s actions were the catalyst for Ms. Bland’s death, and his roughing up of Ms. Bland was unacceptable. I’m sorry to Ms. Bland’s family for how poorly Texas has treated their loved one.”

During the recent Legislature, Coleman proposed the “Sandra Bland Act,” in which he initially asked for more police accountability and safeguards against racial profiling by police. Before being signed into law, the bill was drastically slimmed down to focus on better training for jail workers and mental health care access for inmates.

Bland’s death provoked national outrage and drew the attention of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The 28-year-old Chicago area woman was found dead in her cell at the Waller County Jail outside Houston three days after Encinia, who is white, pulled her over for not signaling a lane change. Authorities say Bland hanged herself with a plastic garbage bag.

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