Readers React: Texas trooper who arrest Sandra Bland abused his authority
To the editor: Regarding the traffic stop of Sandra Bland by Texas state Trooper Brian T. Encinia for the offense of failing to signal before making a lane change: The officer cannot legally be held responsible for her death while in custody three days after her arrest, but he is certainly morally responsible for creating the situation that led to it. (“Can a police officer order you out of your car? Experts weigh in on Sandra Bland case,” July 22)
He claims he felt “threatened” by Bland. So far as I can tell, the only thing “threatened” was Encinia’s apparently weak ego.
The dash-camera footage of Bland’s arrest is chilling in its portrait of the lengths to which a person with power can go when an unhealthy ego feels threatened.
Steve Campbell, Burbank
To the editor: Most of the focus of this case is on Bland’s apparent suicide, when the real issue is the validity of the arrest.
I am a retired death penalty appellate prosecutor. Had this woman just come from committing either the Aurora, Colo., South Carolina or Tennessee shootings, any evidence recovered from her would have been absolutely inadmissible because there was no probable cause for the police officer to do anything
but write her a traffic ticket.
No police officer can either demand someone get out of the car or arrest them for refusing to put out a cigarette or for “talking back” during a traffic stop. “Contempt of cop” does not constitute probable cause even to search, let alone arrest.
Robert S. Henry, San Gabriel
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