Texas trooper turns himself in

  • 08/01/2016
A screen grab from the dash camera in Brian Encinia's police car, when he arrested Sandra Bland. (AAP)
A screen grab from the dash camera in Brian Encinia's police car, when he arrested Sandra Bland. (AAP)

A Texas trooper who arrested a black motorist later found hanged in her jail cell turned himself in on Thursday (local time) and was booked on a misdemeanour perjury charge related to the arrest six months ago, authorities said.

The family of the woman, Sandra Bland, said earlier on Thursday the charge against Trooper Brian Encinia was not enough and he should be indicted for assault, battery and false arrest.

Encinia was booked and had a mugshot taken at the same facility where Bland died. The process took about 30 minutes and he left after bond of US$2500 ($A3787.33) bond was posted, the Waller County Sheriff's Office said.

"We don't show favouritism for anybody," Sheriff R. Glenn Smith told reporters.

Encinia surrendered to Texas Rangers after being indicted on Wednesday by a grand jury in Waller County, outside Houston, on suspicion of lying in a police report about why he pulled Bland out of her car in July 2015. She died three days later of an apparent hanging.

The case was one of many in recent months that raised questions about racial bias in US policing. Bland's family has questioned autopsy reports that she committed suicide.

The misdemeanour charge is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4000 fine. After the indictment was handed up, the Texas Department of Public Safety said it would fire Encinia.

"There is no one who believes this is right for the crime," Geneva Reed-Veal, Bland's mother, said at a news conference in Chicago. "No one should be OK with this."

Reed-Veal said she did not trust local prosecutors and authorities, adding they had not given the family information on the grand jury process or returned Bland's personal items to them.

Encinia has not spoken about the indictment.

Bland was stopped on July 10 by Encinia for failing to signal a lane change in Prairie View, about 80km northwest of Houston.

A prosecutor said Encinia reported he pulled Bland out of the car to investigate the traffic violation.

The traffic stop escalated into a verbal altercation after Encinia asked Bland to put out a cigarette and she refused. A dashcam video of the incident showed Encinia brandishing what appeared to be a Taser and telling Bland: "I will light you up."

The Texas Department of Public Safety faulted Encinia for his conduct during the traffic stop. The video showed him shouting at Bland and failing to answer her when she asked numerous times why she was being arrested.

Bland was charged with assaulting an officer, a felony, and critics said her race was an underlying factor in the traffic stop and the way in which the trooper allowed the confrontation to escalate.

Bland was found dead in her cell three days later with a rubbish bag around her neck. Her family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit. Local officials have said she was not mistreated in jail.