I don’t know what to make of anomalies or edits in the dashcam video of Sandra Bland’s arrest. But I think I know what to make of the encounter that precedes the arrest. That encounter can be seen at the start of the fifty-two-minute dashcam video. I would suggest watching before this video disappears.
The start of the video shows the final moments of trooper Brian Encinia’s encounter with another driver, a college student. I have transcribed Encinia’s words:
“You’re gonna need to see if you can get with your dad. He can give that, uh, send you an e-mail or something, you know what I mean? Get that copy of the insurance, okay? You okay? [Laughs.] This here is a warning: there is no fine, there is no penalty, but you just need to follow the posted speed limit, okay? What year are you here at school? Sophomore? You here for summer school, or? Taking a lot of classes? Just two? Okay. Here’s a copy of the warning. There’s no fine, no penalty, okay? And there’s your driver’s license, all right? Be careful, all right?”Consider: he has stopped a driver for speeding, a driver who turns out to have no proof of insurance. And yet Encinia is a model of tact. He’s even chatty. He lets the driver off with a warning. He repeats, no fine, no penalty — for speeding and no proof of insurance.
Why Encinia takes such a different approach in his encounter with Sandra Bland has to remain a matter for speculation. It would help to know something about that first driver. She (I think it’s a young woman) speaks three audible words — “sophomore,” “just two.” Who is she? Why did she merit such different treatment? I want to ask to a simple question: was that first driver white?
The fifty-two-minute video also makes clear that Sandra Bland changed lanes for a reason. A police car was coming up behind her with increasing speed. She did what any driver in that situation would be likely to do: she got out of the way. Or tried to.