‘Clearly doctored’: Texas police blame Sandra Bland arrest video flaws on tech issues, not edits
On Tuesday, Texas officials released police dashcam footage of the traffic stop that led to Bland’s arrest. She died three days later in the Waller County jail, where she was found hanging from the ceiling of her cell by a noose made from a trash bag.
Bland, 28, was arrested on July 10 after a traffic stop in Prairie View, Texas, about 60 miles (97 km) northwest of Houston. The footage shows Texas state trooper Brian Encinia, repeatedly yelling at Bland to step out of her vehicle, then threatening to drag her out of her car and "light her up" with a Taser.
Encina has been placed on desk duty because of his language and actions during the arrest, pending the results of the investigation into Bland's death, the Washington Post reported.
“Regardless of the situation, the DPS state trooper has an obligation to exhibit professionalism and be courteous,” DPS Director Steve McCraw said. “That did not happen in this situation.”
But the video also shows footage repeating itself and dropping out, leading to questions about whether it was edited.
For instance, a man can be seen walking from a tow truck past the police car multiple times.
Another part shows a white car repeatedly entering and disappearing from the frame before finally making a left turn.
The same car reappears and disappears again later in the video, but the glitches occur at different points in the turn.
There were no irregularities with the audio portion of the footage.
The Rev. Hannah Bonner of St. John's United Methodist Church in Houston told the Los Angeles Times that the issues in the footage show that the video was edited, which she believes is troubling.
“The folks that are experts on film have already said it’s clear that it’s doctored,” Bonner said Wednesday. “That raises questions, even more questions than we already had.”
Bland’s family is questioning the official account that she committed suicide.
Ava DuVernay, who directed the Oscar-winning film ‘Selma’, concurred with Bonner’s assessment that the footage was doctored.
“I edit footage for a living,” she tweeted. “But anyone can see that the this official video has been cut.”
However, DPS press secretary Tom Vinger blamed the irregularities on a "technical issue during posting."
“The entire video was uploaded to include the audio and video of the conversation the trooper had by telephone with his sergeant, which occurred after the arrest. Some of the video that occurred during this conversation was affected in the upload and is being addressed. We are working to repost the dash-cam video,” he said in a statement.
“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.
The department released a newly uploaded version of the video without the glitches on Wednesday afternoon.
However, the timecodes do not match up exactly with the original version, as the new one is several minutes shorter.
On Monday, the Waller County jail released a video showing the emergency medical team arriving to Bland's cell on July 13.
Texas DPS requested the FBI’s help in the investigation on Thursday.