Officially, the legal issue at hand was a misdemeanor charge of perjury. But in many ways the day’s proceedings also concerned Sandra Bland, the black woman whose death in jail last summer fueled criticism of police and their treatment of minorities.
Former Texas state Trooper Brian T. Encinia, whose traffic stop of Bland led to her arrest, pleaded not guilty to the perjury charge before District Judge Albert McCaig Jr. in Hempstead, about 55 miles west of Houston.
More than a dozen deputies and a Texas ranger kept guard around the courtroom packed with Bland supporters, including some in Black Lives Matter T-shirts.
Outside the courthouse, about three dozen Bland...