Wednesday, July 22, 2015

What People Care About This Week: Troy Goode & Sandra Bland

Been a hell of a last few days regarding the use of force by police. Well, a hell of a last few years particularly. 30 year old Troy Goode died two hours after arriving at a hospital after being arrested by police after a concert in Memphis, Tennessee. The lawyer for the family, Tim Edwards, reported that the asthmatic was placed face down on a stretcher and hogtied by Mississippi because he was being disruptive. “His face was buried in the mattress of the stretcher. There was a strap over the back of his head so he couldn't move his head. His hands and feet were hogtied so he couldn't move those, either.” This was recorded on video.

It is being investigated whether or not Goode and his friends were intoxicated before the show. “That'll be determined by the toxicology screen. Whatever was ingested, it was done by all five of them” Edwards said. Police have already been using the phrase “alleged LSD overdose” before any real information has been released to disavow any responsibility. The family meanwhile believes that excessive force may have been a contributing factor in his death. The family has asked for an investigation to begin but as of me writing this none have begun.

Here we have a 30 year old chemical engineer and father that perhaps went out of control on something at a concert and two hours after being arrested is dead. I remember back in the late 90's cops were hogtying people left and right and everyone talked about how inhumane it is and there needs to be a better way to restrain someone. Apparently no one has come up with that method yet and now a guy that should've had a rough night in the hospital or jail to sleep it off is dead.

Next we have Sandra Bland. She was pulled over for failure to signal and three days later found hanging dead in her cell. Seriously, each one of these cases starts off so small and ends with a death while in police custody. In a 49 minute video that was slightly edited (though the police say it wasn't) you see Bland pulled over by a policeman named Brian Encinia did everything he could to goad her into a fight. I know how to piss people off. This guy did, too. After coming back from his car he has this exchange with her. Mind you. This all starts with a baited question.

Encinia: “You okay?”

Bland: “I'm waiting on you, this is your job.”

Encinia: “You seem very irritated.”

Bland: “I am, I really I am. I don't know what I'm getting a ticket for, you were speeding up, tailing me, I move over and you stop me. So, yeah I am a little irritated, but that doesn't stop you from giving me a ticket, so give me a ticket.”

Encinia: “Are you done?”

Bland: “You asked me what was wrong and I told you, so now I’m done yeah.”

Encinia: (asks her to put her cigarette out)

Bland: “I'm in my car, why do I have to put out my cigarette?”

Encinia: “Well you can step out of the car now.”

Bland: “I don't have to step out.” (legally she doesn't and if you are one of those people that says she does you are part of the problem)

Encinia: “Step out of the car. Step out of the car.”

Bland:“I'm getting removed for a failure to signal?”

Encinia: “I'm giving you a lawful order.” Bland says that she will call her lawyer at this point and gets her phone. “I'm going to yank you out of here.”

Bland: “Oh, you're going to yank me out of my car, Okay.”

Encinia: (calls for backup over a small Black woman that he pulled over for failure to signal that just moved to Texas recently) “Get out of the car!” he shouts as he reaches for his Taser. “I will light you up.”

That is what the video shows. This is how Encinia describe it in his report. “I tried to de-escalate her, and it wasn't working at all. I put the Taser away, I tried talking to her, trying to calm her down, and that was not working. I'm trying to get her detained...just calm her down, saying 'stop throwing your arms,' what not. She never swung at me, she was just flailing, stomping around. And that's enough, that's when I detained her.”

Someone else recorded video and in it you can see Encinia standing over Bland as she is on the ground. She says she can not hear after having her head slammed to the ground. Another witness says that Encinia had his knee on her neck. Someone from the Texas Department of Public Safety says that Bland was arrested because she allegedly kicked Encinia and was charged with assaulting a public servant. She was placed in a cell alone because they believed she was a “high risk” to other inmates. After speaking to her sister she mentioned knees in her back and thought her arm was broken.

Encinia has been a cop for a little over a year after working as a ingredient processing supervisor at Blue Bell Creameries from 2008-2014. A preliminary report has already concluded he did not follow proper protocol when making the stop.

Bland was outspoken about police brutality and the treatment of Blacks by them. She had just gotten a great job in Texas and was ready to start working there. I'm sure she thought that what was happening to her would be another in the long list of cases of Black people being manhandled or killed by law enforcement. So how does she go from telling one jailer “I'm fine” at 7am and found hanging in her cell at 9am? How is it the camera has no footage from 7:34am till 9:07am? The family suspects a cover up. Her history of being sad and/or depressed has been mentioned. Let's say she was depressed or suicidal. It shouldn't have been in a jail cell because she was pulled over by a supervisor of a creamery pretending to be a cop.

I'm not really sure what to add to this other than there is no right way to react when confronted by police. You can only hope that you have your shit in order so your family doesn't have to do too much in case you get beaten or killed for walking, driving, dancing, or fitting the description. Stop thinking that you're safe because its on tape. 

Click here for previous What People Care About This Week.

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