Newly released video of the arrest of Sandra Bland shows an officer standing outside her car, threatening her with a Taser and shouting, "I will light you up!" The 52-minute dash-cam footage is prompting a new wave of outcry over seemingly excessive force in Bland's arrest — and accusations that the video is doctored. Bland was arrested on July 10 in a traffic stop in Texas' Waller County, and was found dead in her jail cell three days later, reportedly after hanging herself with a plastic bag. Family and friends immediately doubted that she took her own life (the 28-year-old had just gotten a new job and was reportedly excited to start) and have made accusations of foul play.
The video released Tuesday evening — which includes Bland's confrontation with Texas state trooper Brian Encinia, who pulled her over — contains several looping scenes; many people, including Selma director Ava DuVernay, say this is evidence of tampering. On Wednesday, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety said the glitches were from a "technical issue during posting" and not from being edited.
In the video, after Encinia stops Bland, the confrontation gets heated. Bland refuses to put out her cigarette, and the officer begins yelling, "I'm going to drag you out of here!" Brandishing a Taser, he says, "Get out of the car! I'm going to light you up!" Bland exits her car, protesting the stated reason for her stop, which is that she'd failed to use her turn signal. "I got epilepsy, motherfucker," the dash cam captures Bland saying as Encinia pins her to the ground. "Good," he replies, before packing Bland up and taking her to a Waller County jail cell. Three days later, Bland was found dead. The part of the video that shows Encinia stopping Bland is unadulterated, and her arrest is out of view (a bystander caught images of the trooper holding Bland down), but other scenes are sketchy. At 25:05, a man exits a tow truck and walks toward the camera for about 15 seconds; then, this same scene happens again, though audio of Encinia speaking runs as normal, uninterrupted and without looping.
Later in the video, a white car enters the frame and makes a left-hand turn. The car then reenters and turns again twice more.
Ben Norton, a freelance journalist, made the initial report of discrepancies in the footage. The full video, posted originally to the Texas Department of Public Safety's YouTube channel, is here:
T.L. Langford, a reporter for the Texas Tribune, posted an image of the Texas DPS' statement regarding the video. Public Information Officer Tom Vinger writes, "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." Vinger added that the department is looking into what happened with the video and plans to repost a corrected version.
After the footage was released, Bland's family and friends, and their supporters, gathered at the Johnson-Phillip All Faiths Chapel at Prairie View A&M University for a memorial service. “Once I put this baby in the ground...I’m ready…This means war,” Bland's mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, said to the crowd. As of Monday, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said Bland's death would be investigated as a homicide. Refinery29 has reached out to Mathis and to Bland's family, and will update.