Ex-Texas trooper pleads not guilty in Sandra Bland case

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Brian Encinia.

HEMPSTEAD, Texas — A fired Texas trooper has pleaded not guilty to a charge of misdemeanor perjury stemming from his arrest last summer of Sandra Bland, a black woman who was later found dead in a county jail.

Brian Encinia entered his plea Tuesday and his attorney Larkin Eakin says Encinia’s next court hearing is scheduled for May 17.

A Waller County grand jury indicted Encinia in January on the perjury charge for saying in an affidavit that he removed a combative Bland from her car after stopping her near Houston for a minor traffic violation so he could conduct a safer traffic investigation.

Bland’s jail death was ruled a suicide. Her arrest captured on a police dashcam video provoked national outrage. Her relatives have filed a wrongful death lawsuit.