New dashboard-camera footage has been released showing Sandra Bland’s ill-fated police stop July 10. In the video she is shown arguing with a Texas state trooper over being stopped, an argument that escalates when the officer becomes upset that Bland is not putting out her cigarette. The officer forces Bland from her car after threatening to “light” her up with a Taser.
Three days after the arrest, Bland, 28, was found dead in police custody in Prairie View, Texas. Police claim that Bland committed suicide by “self-inflicted asphyxiation” with a plastic bag, but her family and friends have been adamant that the Illinois woman would not have harmed herself.
The video, released by the Texas Department of Public Safety on YouTube, is nearly an hour long. It shows a previous stop by the same officer at the beginning and then, around the 2:12 mark, the officer pulls over Bland, telling her through her passenger window that she failed to signal a lane change. He takes her license and then, at 8 minutes and 36 seconds into the video, returns to the car, telling Bland that she seems irritated. Bland answers that she is irritated because the officer was following her and pulled her over. She says she’s waiting for him to “do his job” and give her a ticket. It’s then that the officer asks Bland to put out her cigarette and the following exchange transpires:
Officer: You mind putting out your cigarette, please?
Sandra: I’m in my car. Why do I have to put out my cigarette?
Officer: Well, you can step on out now.
Sandra: I don’t have to step out of my car.
Officer: Step out of the car. [He opens her car door.]
Sandra: No … you don’t have the right.
Officer: Step out of the car … I do have the right. Now, step out or I will remove you.
Sandra: I refuse to talk to you other than to identify myself … I’m getting removed for a failure …
Officer: Step out or I will remove you. I am giving you a lawful order. Get out of the car now.
Sandra: And I’m calling my lawyer.
[The officer then leans into the car, reaching for Bland.]
Officer: I’m going to yank you out.
As the officer tries to force Bland from the car, she repeatedly shouts for the officer not to touch her while asking why she is being apprehended. The officer then removes something from his belt—what’s assumed to be a Taser—and shouts at Bland, “I will light you up now.”
Under threat of being tased, Bland exits the car. He puts handcuffs on her, now out of sight of the dashboard camera. Off-camera, you can hear Bland crying and pleading, now on the ground, as another officer arrives.
Bland would be found dead three days after this footage was recorded. The district attorney in Waller County, Texas, says that he is currently treating her death as a homicide investigation.