In July of 2015, Garnet Coleman, member of the Texas House of Representatives, convened a hearing of the House Committee on County Affairs. He asked,”How does someone get pulled over for not signaling, and end up dead in three days? It just doesn’t compute.”
But wait – that is not why Sandra Bland got pulled over. When Trooper Encinia chased her down, the failure to signal had not yet happened.
Before Encinia even noticed her existence, Sandra appears to have ignored a stop sign when turning onto the main road. We can wish she hadn’t done it, but the important thing is, as far as the trooper was concerned, she didn’t do it, because in the moment his eyes were elsewhere. Some idiot claimed that the dashcam video “vindicated” the cop, but no.
Breitbart writer Bob Price would have us believe that the trooper’s U-turn “clearly shows this is the reason” why he pulled her over. Well no, it doesn’t show that at all.
Blowing a stop sign is potentially more dangerous than failing to signal a lane change, and it’s not the kind of mistake a trooper would just let slide. If he had noticed, he surely would have mentioned it when he told Sandra why he had pulled her over. Or in the phone call to his supervisor, and you know he was anxious to make the best possible case for his actions so the boss would back him up 100%. If he’d seen her blow the stop sign, it would have certainly been in his official paperwork.
But he didn’t mention it, for the simple reason that he was unaware of it. That is not why he decided to interfere with Sandra Bland. Apparently, the cop profiled her by some sick standard – a woman he could derive a few minutes’ amusement from, by toying with her. Or maybe it was just the old, tired Driving While Black trope.
In an online comment section, someone asked, “What if I told you it is actually physically impossible to tell the race of someone you’re pulling over in a vehicle?” Maybe, if you just start following from behind. But that isn’t what happened here. At first, Encinia was traveling toward Sandra’s car, and it is undoubtedly possible to tell the race of a driver in the opposite lane.
Also in a comment section, somebody who seems knowledgable did the calculations, based on 20 mph school zone speed limit on that particular stretch of road, and how many seconds of video went by. So the trooper, traveling at 34 mph in a 20 mph zone, closed in on a driver for reasons that are not clear. He wasn’t pursuing her for failing to signal a lane change, because that hadn’t happened yet.
Another online comment suggested that Encinia urgently needed to get close enough to see the license plate – but why? Again, the conclusion is inescapable. The thing that activated his crazy was the sight of a black woman driving her car.
Many people have pointed out that (more important than signaling) a driver has the responsibility to yield the road to an emergency vehicle. If a cop must speed to the rescue of an endangered child, the citizen must get out of the way. Thousands of people have watched the video and come away convinced that Sandra Bland was stopped on a whim, by a cop who felt like fucking with somebody. He turned around, and followed, and bullied her into pulling over, and THAT’s when the failure to signal happened. After, not before.
Here is the icing on the cake. This tactic of rattling a driver’s composure by pulling up behind and aggressively tailgating, is so common that it has a name. According to other online correspondents, it happens all the time in Texas, and reportedly even to white folks, because it is a nice little moneymaker for quite a few branches of government. The person wrote,
This was a Zoom Stop. The officer Zoomed up behind her vehicle at an excessive rate of speed to deliberately intimidate her into a hasty lane change…
…will cause a motorist to either speed up or change lanes without a signal a good percentage of the time….
…deliberate tactic to create a pretext for a stop…
So it wasn’t quite the same as a routine legit traffic stop – you know, the kind where the driver does something wrong first, and then the cop intervenes. In fact, let’s quit pretending this was a routine traffic stop, because it was nothing of the kind. It was arbitrary, capricious, and exploitative, and it never should have happened.