CHICAGO — A video showing a white Texas state trooper shouting "I will light you up" while pulling a black woman from her car brought national outrage, troubling the woman's family, the trooper's boss and, perhaps, even a grand jury.
But as Sandra Bland's mother fumed Thursday over Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Brian Encinia being only indicted on a misdemeanor charge of perjury, the outcome was less surprising to some legal experts and civil rights groups who for months have cautioned that while the dashcam footage might show bad policing, it's not necessarily felony misconduct.
Bland, a 28-year-old former resident of Naperville, Ill., was found dead in her jail cell three days after the confrontational July traffic stop on the outskirts of Houston. Authorities say Bland hanged herself with a garbage bag, and the same grand jury in December declined to charge anyone in her death.
Bland's family and activists in the Black Lives Matter movement argue justice slipped away again with the relatively light charges brought against Encinia. If convicted of the perjury charge, he faces a maximum of one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
"To charge this guy with a misdemeanor, are you kidding me?" Bland's mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, said during a news conference in Chicago. "I'm angry, absolutely. … That's not justice for me."
DPS announced shortly after Wednesday's indictment that Encinia would be fired.
Encinia surrendered Thursday afternoon at the Waller County Jail and was freed a short time later after posting a $2,500 bond. He was processed in the same room where Bland was booked last summer.
Bland's mother said she had little confidence in the prospect of a conviction and that Encinia should have been charged with assault, battery and false arrest.