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Sandra Bland police officer sacked and charged with perjury

SUSPICIOUS DEATH: Sandra Bland

THE TEXAS police officer who pulled over and arrested Sandra Bland has been charged with perjury over his account of his confrontation with the 28-year-old.

Brian Encinia allegedly lied about the manner in which he ordered Bland out of her vehicle after stopping her for a minor driving offence.

A grand jury decided in December not to bring any charges in connection with Bland’s suspicious death while in custody in a Texas jail cell, but on Wednesday (Jan 6), the fresh charges against Encinia were announced.

Hours after the indictment, the Texas Department of Public Safety said "termination proceedings" would start immediately and Encinia was fired from his post as trooper.

The grand jury had cited the officer's affidavit as the reason behind their decision, special prosecutor Shawn McDonald said.

In that affidavit, Encinia had claimed that Bland was "combative and uncooperative" after he pulled her over for a driving offence.

The argument began after she was asked to put out her cigarette and she refused. He then ordered her to get out of the car.

Disturbing video footage of Bland’s arrest showed the police officer drawing his stun gun and threatening Bland with the words: "I will light you up!" before proceeding to drag her out of the car.

After the argument moved off-camera, she was heard screaming that he was about to break her wrists and she complained that her head knocked against the ground.

Three days later Bland was found hanging in her jail cell, her death was ruled a suicide but sparked nationwide condemnation in regards to how Bland was treated over a non-violent offence.

Special prosecutor McDonald said grand jurors found Encinia's statement that he had "removed her from her vehicle to further conduct a safer traffic investigation" to be false.

The perjury charge carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $4,000 fine (£2750).

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