Bland, 28, was found dead inside her cell at Waller County Jail in Texas on July 13. Police claim the civil rights activist hanged herself with a trash bag, but family, friends, and supporters adamantly believe that foul play was involved.
The activist, outspoken on issues of race and police brutality, had just moved to Texas for a new job when she was pulled over by Trooper Brian Encinia for allegedly failing to use her turn signal when changing lanes.
A bystander recorded a portion of the arrest with his smartphone, and video shows Bland alleging that the officer had slammed her head into the ground.
According to Rev. Jamal Bryant, pastor of Empowerment Temple in Baltimore, who viewed the footage with an attorney for the family, Encinia was ready to let Bland off with a written warning, but that changed when the officer began to demand that Bland put out her cigarette, which she refused to do.
Encinia, growing increasingly angry, ordered Bland out of her vehicle. Reportedly, the officer opened Bland’s car door as she grabbed her cell phone to film the encounter.
The activist had made a video on how cameras can change the world just a few months prior.
Officer Encinia claims Bland was being “argumentative and uncooperative,” and that she assaulted the officer.
According to Rev. Bryant, Bland was distraught that she was being ordered out of her vehicle during a routine traffic stop, but there is not one second of footage that shows Bland assault Encinia.
"We have new footage that has been released and in that video cam that has been released there is not one shot, not one scene of where Ms. Bland ever assaulted police," Rev. Bryant told the Texas Tribune.
Bland was arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer and held on $5000 bond. She had contacted a bail bondsman to attempt to set up her release prior to her death.
The result of an independent autopsy performed at the request of the family will be released on Tuesday. The city has officially ruled her death a suicide.
Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith, who made the first public comments about Bland's in-custody death, was suspended for documented cases of racism in 2007 when he was chief of police in Hempstead. After serving his suspension, more complaints of racism came in, and Smith was fired as their chief of police. He was subsequently hired in Waller County.
“What I need you guys to understand is that being a black person in America is very, very hard,” Bland stated in a recent video regarding the Black Lives Matter movement.