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Was Sandra Bland Dashcam Arrest Video Edited Before Release?

Texas police released dashcam footage showing the July 10 traffic stop that led to the arrest of Sandra Bland, who later died in custody, but critics claim the video raises more questions than answers.
Screenshot via the Texas Department of Public Safety

Texas police officials have released controversial dashcam video showing the July 10 traffic stop that led to the arrest of Sandra Bland, an African-American woman who died three days later in custody, in a case that has sparked outrage in the US.

Following the release of the video on Tuesday, however, many social media users were quick to comment that the video appears to lack continuity and seems to loop, indicating the supplied footage was edited prior to release.


The fast-escalating footage shows Texas state trooper Brian Encinia engage in a shouting confrontation with Bland and attempting to drag her out of her car, before drawing his stun gun and threatening to "light her up."

Days after the roadside encounter, Bland was found dead in her jail cell. Authorities say she killed herself — but her family and supporters have strongly refuted the claims, insisting she was optimistic and looking forward to a new job.

The director of the Oscar-winning film Selma, Ava DuVernay, was among many who speculated that the dashcam footage had been altered.

I edit footage for a living. But anyone can see that this official video has been cut. Read/watch. Why? — Ava DuVernay (@AVAETC)July 22, 2015

Glitches. Motion sensors. Clouds. Reasons from those who say — Ava DuVernay (@AVAETC)July 22, 2015

Edited video released by law enforcement raises more questions than answers: — sfpelosi (@sfpelosi)July 22, 2015

At 25 minutes and five seconds into the footage, a man can be seen walking from a truck off screen before he is seen again at the same spot where he began walking as the audio continues.

At 32:37, a white car can be seen driving into view but then immediately disappears. As the video continues, the same car reappears and makes a left-hand turn.

Watch the — Sean Bonner ?July 22, 2015

Texas Department of Public Safety authorities (DPS) said late Tuesday they were looking into alleged edits, NBC reported.


In a statement to the Texas Tribune, DPS spokesman Tom Vinger said that the video "has not been edited."

Vinger added that it had been previously requested the FBI examine the dash cam and jail video to ensure "the integrity of the video."

Vinger told Mother Jones that the glitches in the video were the result of a YouTube upload error. "Some of the video that occurred during this conversation was affected in the upload and is being addressed," he told the site.

The footage shows Encinia stopping Bland for failure to signal a lane change. After he hands her a written warning, the trooper remarks that Bland seems irritated.

"I am, I really am," she responds, "because I feel like it's crap is what I'm getting a ticket for, I was getting out of your way, you were speeding up, tailing me so I moved over and you stopped me so yeah, I am a little irritated but that doesn't stop you from giving me a ticket, so."

The conversation quickly turns hostile when the officer asks Bland to put out her cigarette and she asks why she can't smoke in her own car. The trooper then orders Bland to get out of the vehicle. She refuses, and he tells her she is under arrest.

Further refusals to put out her cigarette bring a threat from the trooper to drag her out of her car. "I'm going to yank you out of here," he says. "I'm going to drag you out of here." He then pulls what appears to be a Taser out of a holster and says: "Get out of the car. I will light you up. Get out. Now."


Authorities may claim the Sandra Bland video 'glitched,' but, as — Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton)July 22, 2015

Related: 'Get Out of the Car': Sandra Bland's Family Attorney Reveals New Details of Arrest

Out of the camera's view, Bland goes on protesting her arrest, repeatedly using expletives and calling the officer a "pussy." Bland can then be heard screaming: "You're about to break my wrist, stop! … You're a real man now, you just slammed me, knocked my head into the ground, I got epilepsy, you motherfucker."

Encinia replies: "Good."

Bland's death comes after nearly a year of heightened national scrutiny of police and their dealings with black suspects, especially those who have been killed by officers.

The case has resonated on social media, with posts questioning the official account and featuring the hashtags #JusticeForSandy and #WhatHappenedToSandyBland. Others referred to #SandySpeaks, the hashtag Bland used in monologues she posted on Facebook in which she talked about police brutality and said she had a calling from God to speak out against racism and injustice.

In an affidavit released Tuesday, the trooper said that after handcuffing her for becoming combative, she swung her elbows at him and kicked him in his right shin.

Encinia said he then used force "to subdue Bland to the ground," and she continued to fight back. He arrested her for assault on a public servant.

NEW: Texas DPS Trooper says — Ross Weidner (@RossWeidner)July 21, 2015


Related: Friends Suspect Foul Play After Woman's Supposed Suicide in Texas Jail

The trooper, who has been on the force for just over a year, has been placed on administrative leave for violating unspecified police procedures and the Department of Public Safety's courtesy policy. The agency would not address questions about whether the trooper acted appropriately by drawing his stun gun or pulling her out of the vehicle.

On Monday evening, authorities in Texas also released surveillance video taken inside the county jail where Bland died, showing nine minutes of footage taken over a three-hour period leading up to her death. While her cell is not in direct view in the video, guards and paramedics can be seen attending to Bland after she was found hanging in her cell just before 9am.

Bland's family and clergy members have called for a Justice Department probe, and an independent autopsy has been ordered.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Follow Charlotte Meredith on Twitter: @CHMeredith