She was found dead in her cell three days after her arrest. A lawsuit filed by Ms. Bland’s relatives in federal court against Mr. Encinia and others claimed he made up a reason to arrest her, although that suit was later settled.
The perjury charge against Mr. Encinia stemmed from a one-page affidavit that he filed with jail officials justifying Ms. Bland’s arrest. Mr. Encinia wrote in the affidavit that he removed her from her car to more safely conduct a traffic investigation, but the grand jury found that statement to be false, according to special prosecutors who handled the case.
The dismissal of the perjury charge was tied to an agreement prosecutors had with Mr. Encinia. In the agreement — which was signed by prosecutors, the judge, Mr. Encinia and his lawyers — Mr. Encinia agreed to end his career as a law enforcement officer in exchange for the dismissal of the charge.
Mr. Encinia permanently surrendered the state-issued license given to all law-enforcement officers and agreed that he would “never seek, accept or engage in employment in any capacity with law enforcement,” either as a sworn police officer or in a civilian role, according to court records. He also agreed to never seek expungement of the charge, the legal process of having a criminal record erased or sealed. If he violates any parts of the agreement, the state can refile the charge against him.
“Brian and his family appreciate the thoughtful review by the prosecutors,” Chip Lewis, Mr. Encinia’s lawyer, said in a statement. “Dismissal was the right thing to do. The Encinias will remain forever grateful to their family, friends and members of the law enforcement community for all their support.”
Cannon Lambert, a lawyer for Ms. Bland’s relatives, said the family was “completely blindsided” by the dismissal of the charge. Ms. Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, and her sisters had met with special prosecutors in Texas last year and told them that the family wanted the case to go to trial, and prosecutors had agreed to pursue that course, Mr. Lambert said.
“It’s pretty disappointing,” he said.
Pheobe Smith, one of the special prosecutors, disagreed with Mr. Lambert’s interpretation of the discussions between the family and prosecutors. And she defended prosecutors’ handling of the case, saying they were prepared to go to trial in September but felt their best option was ensuring Mr. Encinia would be barred from pursuing a law-enforcement career.
“It’s pretty obvious that it’s always going to be an uphill battle when you’re prosecuting a case against a police officer, and we fully expected that,” Ms. Smith said, adding, “What I was searching for was to do the right thing, and I think that we did that.”
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