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Sandra Bland Arrest: Another Lesson in Non-Compliance

Sandra Bland Arrest: Another Lesson in Non-Compliance

Arguments about legal rights are best conducted in court, not at roadside

So there’s another notable arrest in the news, that of black woman Sandra Bland by white Texas patrol officer, and thus we have yet another “teachable moment” in non-compliance to lawful police orders. (Note that I address here only Bland’s arrest–I’ve no particular insight into her death three days later while in custody.  Also, I limit my points to the issue of legality, as opposed to procedure or policy.)

Thanks to the officer’s dash-cam, almost all of the interaction between him and Bland is captured on video.  If you haven’t seen it, here it is:

Now that is a free lesson in how not to act during a traffic stop if you don’t want to get yourself arrested.

As usual, there’s a considerable amount of outrage being expressed by people who possess a very limited practical and theoretical understanding of the laws and dynamics governing arrest.

First, there’s the stop.  As discussed at length in the context of the Freddie Gray arrest, as well as the McKinney pool arrest, an officer requires some reasonable suspicion of unlawful conduct in order to stop someone.

In the case of Bland, the “reasonable suspicion” is actually a certainty–she committed a moving violation while driving, and never herself contests this violation.  Thus there is no question that the officer had the authority to stop Bland. The relevant US Supreme Court decision on this issue is Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (US Supreme Court 1968).

Second, there’s the request (order?) for Bland to put out her cigarette and (after she refused to do so) order to her to step out of the vehicle.  I’ve read many objections to both of these, including many claims that they were unlawful conduct by the officer.


Once the officer has made a lawful stop he is permitted to take whatever steps may be reasonably necessary to ensure the safety of himself, the suspect, and the general public while the stop is taking place.  This includes asking the driver of a stopped vehicle to step out of the vehicle, and would even authorize the officer to handcuff the suspect during the duration of the stop. The relevant US Supreme Court decision on this issue is Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106 (US Supreme Court 1977).

The fact that officers making a traffic stop rarely take these additional cumbersome steps does not change the fact that they have the authority to do so.

In the case of the request (order?) that Bland extinguish her cigarette, the request (order?) was consistent with officer safety, as a lit cigarette is a potential weapon.  (If you don’t believe me, go ahead and light one up and press it against your skin.  If that’s an unattractive option, ask to see my cigarette burn scar should we ever meet up.)

In the case of asking Bland to exit the vehicle, that again was consistent with officer safety, and perfectly acceptable law enforcement doctrine, as it separates the suspect from any weapons they may have concealed in an immediately accessible place inside the vehicle. Indeed, the officer is also permitted to search those easily accessible areas of the car for a prospective weapon, with no requirement for a search warrant.

The moment Bland refused to comply with the officer’s lawful order to exit the vehicle, the officer had the legal authority to use reasonable force to compel her compliance.

In this case, the officer moved incrementally up the use-of-force continuum, consistent with the duration and intensity of Bland’s non-compliance, from simple verbal commands, to increasingly strident verbal commands, to warning of imminent non-deadly force, to threatening non-deadly force, to use of non-deadly force, to handcuffing and restraining the violently non-compliant suspect, and then (I’m speculating based on audio) using routine (albeit definitely painful) handcuff-control techniques on Bland as she continues to be non-compliant.

Bland, in turn, engages in explicitly criminal conduct in resisting the lawful arrest and committing a simple assault/battery on a law enforcement officer (e.g., kicking him).

It’s worth keeping in mind that at any instant the use of force against Bland would have discontinued had she simply complied with the officer’s lawful orders. However much force was used on her ,on these facts that’s on her.  Once Bland became violently non-compliant there was no scenario under which she was simply going to be sent on about her day with a warning.

There has already been some learned pondering on when and whether various statements by a police officer constitute a mere request, a lawful order, or an unlawful order–one such I’ve seen is a very good blog post by law professor Orin Kerr over at the always excellent Volokh Conspiracy:  The law of the Sandra Bland traffic stop.

The legal issues Professor Kerr explores are important ones, and he approaches them with a very high degree of insight and knowledge.

Nevertheless, as a simple practical matter such questions of law are best decided in a court room, after the stop is long over, not on the side of the road while the stop is taking place.

Few police are themselves lawyers, much less expert law professors steeped in Constitutional law and criminal procedure.  Those they pull over are likely to know even less about the actual laws governing stops and arrests than does the officer, and in any case the officer did not pull them over to receive a law lecture from them.

If you find yourself struggling to choose whether to politely comply with an officer’s requests/orders at a traffic stop and perhaps pursue legal action afterwards on the one hand, or alternatively to be violently non-compliant with those requests/orders while the stop is taking place on the other, I humbly suggest that the former option will prove the less painful and disruptive.

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

Attorney Andrew Branca and his firm Law of Self Defense have been providing internationally-recognized expertise in American self-defense law for almost 20 years in the form of blogging, books, live seminars & online training (both accredited for CLE), public speaking engagements, and individualized legal consultation.
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Excellent exposition, Andrew!

I have, myself, politely and bemusedly refused to extinguish a cigar when I was stopped by a Houston PD officer, explaining to her that no cigar is ever the same cigar if you have to relight it. I never dreamed that my cigar was any threat to her, and she didn’t make it an issue. I live and learn…!!!

Relative to this really sad incident, I know Paul Looney (slightly) who is an area lawyer asked to deal with the investigation of the police conduct by the local officials.

If I gain any insights, I’ll pass them along.

From all appearances at this point, however, it appears that Miss Bland had a lot of “issues”, and took her own life while in jail. I’m afraid the DPS trooper will have his career ended by this chain of events, and his conduct was not as professional as we expect from our State Highway Patrol.

    healthguyfsu in reply to Ragspierre. | July 24, 2015 at 7:17 pm

    I’m not sure when polite become the word of use for unflinchingly deaf to wretched hostility.

    I’m not saying she was a huge threat but she could have easily created a more dangerous situation had more SJWs been around to play hero cards.

      healthguyfsu in reply to healthguyfsu. | July 24, 2015 at 7:23 pm

      Slight note of context: I never watched the short clip in the link above. I watched the entire dashcam video and saw an absolutely hostile and wretched individual.

      This person did the world a favor during incarceration.

      Sanddog in reply to healthguyfsu. | July 24, 2015 at 7:36 pm

      When your job involves dealing with the public, you have to let a lot of crap just roll off you. Compliance is the goal and if they want to be a wretched piece of work… as long as they comply, so be it.

      That said, officers are just as human as the rest of us and even the most mild mannered person is only able to take so much crap before they turn nasty themselves. That should be a lesson for everyone… don’t be deliberately shitty to someone with a badge and a gun. They might be having a really bad day.

        healthguyfsu in reply to Sanddog. | July 24, 2015 at 7:47 pm

        Compliance is the goal and she was non-compliant. This isn’t San Angeles from Demolition Man where you are required to politely repeat the command in a slightly louder tone of voice.

In watching this (as an EMT), it seems to me that police are not well trained in de-escalating situations.

There’s a time to be a bad-ass prick, but 99% of the time is not that time. Most of the time it’s getting everybody to stay cool like 3 Fonzies.

Andrew, I have read a lot of your stuff on Legal Insurrection, and have generally found it very enlightening. However, I find your dismissal of criticism of the officer’s actions here a little troublesome.

The key point in the confrontation comes when he orders her to put out her cigarette. This comes right after he asks her what is bothering her, and she tells him that she strongly disagrees with his decision to pull her over for a minor traffic violation–a direct and honest response to his question.

You state: “Once the officer has made a lawful stop he is permitted to take whatever steps may be reasonably necessary to ensure the safety of himself, the suspect, and the general public while the stop is taking place.” I can’t argue with that as a general proposition of law.

Here, however, it seems pretty darn apparent that the order (don’t try to downgrade it to a request) to put out the cigarette had everything to do with his not liking her honest answer to his direct question, and next to nothing to do with the officer’s safety.

He chose to escalate the situation for no reason other than he didn’t like the answer he gave her. And that just doesn’t seem right to me.

People don’t give up their first amendment rights simply because they are stopped by police. Especially when they are asked to respond to a (pointless and stupid) open ended question by the police officer.

Maybe what he did was “legal.” But I certainly found it troubling. I didn’t think either of them were blameless for the way the situation escalated.

    That’s why I explicitly noted in the first paragraph of my post: “Also, I limit my points to the issue of legality, as opposed to procedure or policy.” 🙂

    If that cop’s boss wants to fire him for handling the situation poorly, that’s up to them, and I wouldn’t feel particularly strongly about it one way or another. #shrug

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

Phillep Harding | July 24, 2015 at 4:38 pm

Compare and contrast the death rates of police officers and game wardens, and consider that very near 100% of the time game wardens are dealing with armed, often heavily armed, citizens, some criminals.

It is my understanding that the officer had completed his business with Ms Bland, giving her a warning, but then decided to engage her in further conversation about why she was “irritated”. That is where this incident went off the rails. He was baiting her.

    “It is my understanding that the officer had completed his business with Ms Bland, giving her a warning, but then decided to engage her in further conversation about why she was “irritated”.”

    Based on what evidence? Clearly their business was not completed, as she was still there.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDEfense

      creeper in reply to Andrew Branca. | July 24, 2015 at 5:06 pm

      Look at the video again. At no time does he tell her why he stopped her. What you’re seeing is not the entire video. It’s been edited.

      The video does not show the cars stopping nor the initial contact. He’s coming back to her car with a clipboard on which I believe is the warning ticket he wrote. “Okay, ma’am,” he says. Not “Do you know why I stopped you?” or “You made an improper lane change.”

      You’re only seeing half the picture, Andrew…the half the cops want you to see.

        If you have additional evidence, share it. Otherwise your point is, well, pointless.

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          creeper in reply to Andrew Branca. | July 24, 2015 at 7:41 pm

          I have neither the time nor the inclination to pursue an argument which was launched based on incomplete evidence in the first place. I’m sorry, but I have other things to do.

          Whatever happened to “the whole truth”? You posted a fragment of a video, with no reference to the complete recording, and then I get chastised for not knowing it exists.

          I stand by my statement. Ms Bland was baited. And now I know how she felt.

          Gremlin1974 in reply to Andrew Branca. | July 24, 2015 at 8:41 pm


          I find it funny that you accuse Andrew of using incomplete evidence when you admit yourself that you haven’t seen the complete video which is easily found and has been easily found for more than 48 hours. Hypocrite much?

          Also, I was wondering if you get free cheese with that whine?

          “I have neither the time nor the inclination to pursue an argument which was launched based on incomplete evidence in the first place.”

          Shorter: You HAVE no evidence to support your claim.

          Got it. Thanks. 🙂

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Andrew Branca. | July 24, 2015 at 11:48 pm

          Andrew you are missing something about the story. According to news reports there is one instance when the tow truck driver gets out, about five seconds after that video bumps back to the time he gets out.
          What the PD says is that there was a transmission error that caused the bump. They then released a clean copy of the tape. I dunno if it was a transmission error but it dxoes appear like a normal glich that does arise in videos.

          According to the OnlyBlackLivesMatter numnuts this is proof that the whole video was editted.

          Anyway the whole video shows a lot more interesting things. Such as the cop giving out a previous warning to someone, here he is nice and polite despite the fact that she does not have proof of insurance. ( He tells her that her father can email her proof or something like that. )

          You see the violation. Can’t tell if it was a red light she ran.

          He approaches on the left ( passenger ) side and tells her she failed to signal a lane change. He then asks her for the first time if she’s alright. There was some exchange about driver licenses. I can’t catch what it is.

          You are mistaken slightly. When he approaches the second he first asks her if she is OK. At that point she is already very agitated, just short of OBLM protest mode, then he asks her to put out the cigarette. She still stays short of OBLM mode, but gets more agitated. So she is fairly close to losing it and at that point he asks her to step out.

          Also you can hear the cop tell backup that she kicked him.

          Anyway this is a video of the full altercation. I think it is the same one I watched.

        Gremlin1974 in reply to creeper. | July 24, 2015 at 7:11 pm

        Well Creeper, you are just wrong. Here is a link to the entire 52 minutes unedited video. Basically it changes nothing and vindicates the officer.

        Mrs. Bland was perfectly fine when first stopped, but then had a marked change of affect when the trooper went back to the car which in and of itself could be suspicious and/or a reaction to believing she is gonna be ticketed.

          I heard, but cannot personally confirm, that the full video shows Bland blatantly running a red light right in front of the officer, but this never came up in “conversation”. He might have mentioned that had a confrontation not started…

          Shane in reply to Gremlin1974. | July 24, 2015 at 11:13 pm

          JBourqe … she “blatantly” made a lane change without a signal.

          Gremlin1974 in reply to Gremlin1974. | July 25, 2015 at 2:51 am


          Actually if you watch the unedited video, she came off of a side street and turned right and never even really slowed down. So she “california rolled” through a stop sign. Which is why the trooper turned around to follow her. Then she changed lanes without signaling.

          He never mentioned the rolling stop because it wasn’t the reason he stopped her, the illegal lane change was. Also, why mention it if you are just going to give her a warning. You might end up questioned by your superiors as to why you gave a warning to someone who committed 2 moving violations in less than 2 minutes.

    Ragspierre in reply to creeper. | July 24, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    You’re confused. The question he asks came at the beginning of the stop.

    It is well within the realm of “normal” for a LEO to ask why someone seems inappropriately irritated over a traffic stop. It CERTAINLY CAN be an indicator of an altered state of consciousness, which is ONE of the things LEOs are trained to look for.

    Where he does seem to leave his training and the expectations of the DPS is that he seems to let this Black-tivist lady get to him.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to creeper. | July 24, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    From the reports that I have seen (note that these reports are press articles not official reports) the trooper was on his way to give her the warning, but the escalating conversation happened before he actually got around to it.

    Personally, I didn’t have a problem with the troopers behavior, but that is just my opinion.

    Elliott in reply to creeper. | July 24, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    He was essentially performing a “safety stop” to determine if she was impaired or to put it bluntly crazy. Driving aggressively, rolling stops, changing lanes without signal can be an behavior of aggressive or impaired driving. These type of traffic warnings are common to remind drivers to straighten up, slow down, pay attention, etc and most people accept it as such. He works for the Dept of Public SAFETY. Driving is a privilege not a right. Driver education is also part of the work of law enforcement. Bland didn’t want to hear it, did not consider the safety of others, and didn’t want to be inconvenienced. Could the state trooper have handled it better? Sure. Who does anything perfectly. Also this is not a white cop. He is a Hispanic cop. He was a fireman in another town before he was a law enforcement officer.

It’s fascinating that it has taken this long for the truth to start leaking out. First of all, Ms. Bland made two moving violations. Besides the lane change with no signal, in the video you can see that she ran a stop sign when pulling out of the side street. But the real important stuff – her long history of run-ins with the police, never seems to have made the news. It seems she skipped out of Chicago leaving behind over $7,000 in unpaid fines. This article has her entire rap-sheet:

    creeper in reply to snopercod. | July 24, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    Utterly irrelevant absent a warrant.

      Mannie in reply to creeper. | July 25, 2015 at 1:39 pm

      But it is indicative of her character and possible motivation. We’re not trying her, here, so the laws of evidence don’t apply. We’re analyzing the incident, trying to learn from it. Hopefully.

    creeper in reply to snopercod. | July 24, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    You must be seeing a different video than I am. In the one I’m viewing, Bland’s car never moves.

      Gremlin1974 in reply to creeper. | July 24, 2015 at 7:13 pm

      That is because you are choosing not to look for the very easily found, and has been easily found for the past 2 days, unedited video of the stop that actually begins with the trooper completing the stop with the person previous to Mrs. Bland.

      Shane in reply to creeper. | July 24, 2015 at 11:16 pm

      Two links of full stop including previous stop in previous comments post including Andrew.

citizenjeff | July 24, 2015 at 4:55 pm

According to Mimms, cops are authorized to force drivers/passengers to exit their vehicles during traffic stops. But do you think there’s any chance the stop was unconstitutionally prolonged according to Rodriguez v. United States? It seems the investigation had concluded, and the officer was issuing a warning, a “process” that takes only a few seconds. In other words, it was actually retaliation for her attitude, not – at that point – a safety measure. Also, it seemed he was baiting her by asking why she wasn’t cheery. She hadn’t even complained yet. Does failing to smile warrant an investigation?

    It’s possible, though it doesn’t look like that to me in the video I’ve seen (which is the version embedded in this post).

    But I’m always happy to look at more evidence if someone has some.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      citizenjeff in reply to Andrew Branca. | July 24, 2015 at 5:37 pm

      He says in the video that he had already made the decision to issue a warning. He didn’t tell Ms. Bland what else he needed to investigate, he didn’t tell his sergeant in the post-arrest conversation we hear in the video what else needed to be investigated, he didn’t reveal in his sworn affidavit what else needed to be investigated, and it seems he in fact conducted no further investigation although he could have. What sort of evidence are you happy to consider that might lead you to revise your analysis?

        He says she WOULD have gotten a warning had she complied. That doesn’t suggest a done deal to me. Maybe he was still deciding warning v. ticket when he walked up to her car door and asked her to put out the cigarette. Beyond the realm of possibility? I think not.

        In any case, I’m disinclined to accuse this officer of criminal conduct absent clear evidence of such, and particularly not when the suspect could at any time have simply complied.

        He wasn’t ordering her to run into traffic. He asked her to put out her cigarette, and when she refused he asked her to exit the vehicle. He’s entirely entitled to do BOTH those things.

        And I find the Rodriguez argument unconvincing. A traffic stop is not a static affair, new and different behaviors and evidence are being observed throughout.

        If Bland suddenly become hostile and non-compliant, it’s not bizarre for the officer to suddenly become more concerned for his safety, and to act conduct himself accordingly.

        Regardless, the whole thing is rather silly. Clearly this officer is not responsible for her death, which is the only reason she’s in the news at all. “Asshole driver gets arrested in traffic stop” is not exactly a big news story.

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          citizenjeff in reply to Andrew Branca. | July 24, 2015 at 10:08 pm

          I haven’t claimed a traffic stop is a static affair. But because the cop walked back with a warning notice in his hand after running the customary checks, it’s fair to assume the investigation was over. It is, as you say, in the realm of possibility that the officer became concerned for his safety. But being near Ms. Bland’s lit cigarette would be a valid concern only if there were a valid reason to remain near her lit cigarette. Why not just quickly get her to sign the warning notice, and then walk away? We’re talking about what would have been only a few seconds of exposure to the “dangerous weapon” that’s actually soothing the person whose perceived agitation is supposedly the cop’s concern. By asking her to put out the cigarette, he exposed himself to the hypothetical danger he was hypothetically trying to avoid, because it takes a few seconds to ask the question and listen to the response. And there he was standing next to the lit cigarette in that time period. It would have taken no more time to simply issue the warning, and Ms. Bland would have been less able to burn the cop while signing the warning notice than she was able to burn him while he tried to persuade her to put the cigarette out.

          The cop wrote in his sworn affidavit: “I had Bland exit the vehicle to further conduct a safe traffic investigation.”

          There was no apparent need for further investigation, and since the cop hasn’t bothered to explain any special need, why should a fair person give him the benefit of the doubt? Other than keeping his legal defense options open, what is the reason for such secrecy?

          After a standard investigation has been conducted, for how long is it constitutionally permissible to extend a traffic stop and deprive a driver of liberty so a cop can think about changing his mind?

          It seems obvious to me that the stop was prolonged for failure to genuflect, and since admitting it wouldn’t help him, the cop is being evasive about something that should be explained forthrightly. Why support such a person?

          Right or wrong, the officer is certainly responsible for putting Ms. Bland in harm’s way (jail). If it was kosher to extend the stop, he deserves no blame for her death. But if the secret “investigation” wasn’t kosher…

          Gremlin1974 in reply to Andrew Branca. | July 25, 2015 at 2:44 am


          “Right or wrong, the officer is certainly responsible for putting Ms. Bland in harm’s way (jail).”

          Oh, what a load of crap. The only person who is responsible for a successful suicide is the person who completes the suicide. This officer is no more responsible for her death than you or I. I would actually argue that the family and friends that ignored the plea’s of this obviously disturbed woman are more at fault than the cop. Geez.

          “There was no apparent need for further investigation, and since the cop hasn’t bothered to explain any special need, why should a fair person give him the benefit of the doubt? Other than keeping his legal defense options open, what is the reason for such secrecy?”

          It would seem the officer actually seeing INTO THE VEHICLE and DIRECTLY OBSERVING Bland, none of which we can see on video with any degree of clarity, disagrees. Absent evidence to the contrary, and the clear ability of the suspect to simply comply with lawful orders, I’ll defer to the officer.

          Further, the fact that a single form does not explain the totality of an officer’s reasoning does not default to conviction. Cops do a LOT of paperwork. I’s customary to be as brief and concise as accepted practice and procedure allow. A comprehensive treatise on every arrest is simply impractical.

          And, OF COURSE, the officer had no reason to know that Bland would suicide three days later, so that from his perspective there was nothing terribly remarkable about these events, so he had no reason to be any more comprehensive or detailed than usual.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

There are points upon which it makes sense to make a stand – refusing to permit a search of the vehicle, for example. But you can do that calmly and civilly.

If this woman simply shut her mouth and accepted the warning ticket for failing to signal – getting off easy, considering she rolled through a stop sign, too, and had outstanding warrants – she would have driven away with no problem.

To blame the cop for her erratic behavior is ridiculous.

    healthguyfsu in reply to Estragon. | July 24, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    Thumbs up for someone who has read up on the entire story and seen the entire video.

    There are, once again, a mob of uninformed, useful idiots patrolling the internet to turn this entire thing into hyperbole. Her scummy family is feeding off of it, of course, and the grievance group seems to already be gearing up for another tattling to the DOJ.

      Elliott in reply to healthguyfsu. | July 24, 2015 at 8:15 pm

      They wouldn’t accept her repeat collect calls. Her friend in town got a call from her in which she stated she didn’t understand how she wound up in jail and he turned his phone off. It is pathetic. She obviously became more and more despondent. The jail staff even let her use their phones. She wouldn’t eat, she was crying, and they wouldn’t take her calls. They could have just told her no or told her it would take a while to get the money together. The bail bondsman kept trying to call them too per the Houston media.

        MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Elliott. | July 24, 2015 at 8:49 pm

        My understanding was that she racked up $8000 in traffic tickets in Chicago. Her family just didn’t want to be bother with bailing her out any more.

    Mannie in reply to Estragon. | July 25, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    But you can do that calmly and civilly.

    And you are more likely to prevail if you do so. If you attempt violence to “protect your rights” you will certainly be squashed and your argument may be forfeit.

    There’s an old proverb, “If you strike a king, see that you kill him.” A more apropos version for today’s political climate may be, “If you’re going to start a revolution, see that you can win it.” If you or I try to start that revolution as individuals, we will likely go down as individual a’oles, not revolutionaries.

I worked for a while in law enforcement. When I went through the psychological exam (yes they do have them) the psychologist told me that, in his experience, a jail or prison guard deals with 95% assholes and 5% reasonable people. For a street cop or deputy it is about 50-50. For a state trooper it is about 5% assholes and 95% reasonable people.

From my experience, I think he was pretty close. I don’t know if this was this troopers second 5 percenter in a row or if he just did not have enough experience de-escalating a situation but he could have handled it better.

    Andy in reply to Anchovy. | July 24, 2015 at 11:41 pm

    … and its impossible to tell assholes from the medically impaired (diabetic, bipolar, elderly with UTI). This often gets cops in trouble… said the EMT

DavidJackSmith | July 24, 2015 at 5:21 pm

It is tragic that a depressed woman killed herself.

I’ve had two work colleagues/friends who suffered clinical depression — they started to do some very odd things, and their behavior changed.

And they got treatment.

The woman’s sister admitted that despite her losing a baby the year before (a major trauma) she had not been treated for depression. The sister seemed to think this was proof she wasn’t clinically depressed.

Her suicide would say different.

Unfortunately rthis is falling into the usual race pattern.

I sense money will be involved.

    Ragspierre in reply to DavidJackSmith. | July 24, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    We really have several actors in this little drama, and several different, very separate scenes.

    The LEO and Miss Bland are two actors in one scene, and each is responsible for their own conduct. IMNHO, neither is blameless here, and the Texas DPS seems to agree.

    Days after her arrest, Miss Bland appears to have taken her own life, though that is being very seriously investigated by officials from our governor on down.

Arguments about legal rights are best conducted in court

Which, really, when you get down to it means the citizen always takes it in the shorts what with the cop’s qualified immunity. We’re so screwed.

    healthguyfsu in reply to maxmillion. | July 24, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    Only if you act like little miss sunshine here. When you are respectful and compliant, things like this don’t happen. I’ve had my day in traffic court for the very same infraction for which she was pulled over (surprise I’m white and the officer was going the other direction and u-turned to come pull me over…was I targeted?).

    I was treated very fairly and the officers and court officials were quite amiable, probably because they recognized someone that would act like a decent and honest human being in their presence, as opposed to the all-too-frequent riff raff like miss thang.

    This is not a tragedy unless someone gets fired over it…less of these vile wastes of space in the world is a good thing.

    By the way, this just happened in Utah the other day….

    Would have been better if the cop hadn’t found him and he had been a lost game of frogger instead.

My attitude during a traffic stop when I was 19 or 29 would be completely different than today when I am 69. Now my only request to any non-confrontational arrest would be to politely ask the officer to use two sets of handcuffs so I would not be subjected to positional asphyxia when cuffed and stuffed.

inspectorudy | July 24, 2015 at 6:15 pm

I understand legality and police authorized force but for some reason it seems like most incidents like this escalate because of the citizen refusing to comply with simple commands and then the cop over reacting to the refusal. I know the cop can demand things that the citizen has to comply with but shouldn’t there be some common sense involved on the course of action that follows a refusal? I was not there so I cannot get a feeling for the atmosphere but this woman was not suspected of being a robber or murderer so why the extreme action? Sure it may be legal but the cops don’t seem to have any sense of proportion. After she refused to get out of her car couldn’t he have asked for female backup to handle her or even another male? It would only be a matter of a few minutes and the chance for this type of escalation would be diminished greatly. Cops have a lousy job but when they take that job they should have the personality to go with it.

    “After she refused to get out of her car couldn’t he have asked for female backup to handle her or even another male?”

    WHAT? “Hey, fellow cop, this angry woman won’t get out of her car, she’s physically resisting, so here’s my present to you–YOU get her out.”

    Not how to get popular in the squad room, I would think. 🙂

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

    tom swift in reply to inspectorudy. | July 24, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    this woman was not suspected of being a robber or murderer so why the extreme action?

    You’re forgetting the Deadly Weapon—the cigarette.

    Perhaps if the officer had a bigger badge to hide behind, he wouldn’t feel so threatened by the secret of fire.

      “You’re forgetting the Deadly Weapon—the cigarette.”

      I’ve yet to meet one person who mocks the notion of a lit cigarette as a weapon who will allow me to put one out on their face. 🙂

      You up for it? It would be a HUGE youtube hit. 🙂

      –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        I’m willing to let you try to put it out in my face while you are sitting in a car with the door closed and I am standing outside.

        The woman had problems and brought most of this on herself.

        The cop is a asshole unfit to serve the public. It never needed to go this way.

          Cool. Where do you want to meet up? Anywhere in the northeast is fine.

          Naturally, you’ll need to sign a legal release/assumption of risk, and the burning will be recorded for posterity. It’s OK if you scream like a girl, I did when I got burned.

          Naturally, you’ll reach into the window to hand me my “warning,” right? 🙂

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          Mannie in reply to Barry. | July 25, 2015 at 2:00 pm

          Without turning this into a pissing contest, also note that the officer had the potential assailant bottled up in a vehicle, had two hands available to fend off the attack, deflect the weapon, and smash the perp in the face.

          My qualifications with being burned? Try pouring a tablespoon of white hot, molten steel down your welding glove while standing on a rickety ladder over an elevator shaft. I carry the scar 45 years later. I didn’t “cry like a girl.” I slowly climbed down the ladder, turned off the torch, and pulled off the glove. But then I damnear lit the place on fire with my cussing. 😉

          My point is that in that situation, a cigarette is not a credible weapon.

          Barry in reply to Barry. | July 25, 2015 at 9:36 pm

          “Naturally, you’ll need to sign a legal release/assumption of risk, and the burning will be recorded for posterity.”

          Sure, and you the same for when I pull my taser or gun and use an actual deadly weapon in response to your deadly threat.

          But it will have to be down here in the South 🙂

          “It’s OK if you scream like a girl, I did when I got burned.”

          I have a half dollar size burn on my right forearm. I didn’t scream.

          I find it hard to believe you think that a cigarette, in this case, held by a woman inside a car with the door closed, is a “deadly weapon”.

          If the officer thought it was “deadly weapon”, then why did he open the car door and drag the woman out, ignoring that “deadly weapon”. Would he have done that were the woman to be holding an actual deadly weapon like a pistol? No, didn’t think so.

          Convince me the officer thought the cigarette was a deadly weapon.


          “Sure, and you the same for when I pull my taser or gun and use an actual deadly weapon in response to your deadly threat.”

          So NOW a lit cigarette IS a deadly threat?


          Yeah, that’s what I thought. 🙂

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          “If the officer thought it was “deadly weapon””

          I never claimed the cigarette was a DEADLY weapon, merely A weapon.

          An officer is not required to unnecessarily expose himself to ANY weapon, deadly or not. 🙂

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          Barry in reply to Barry. | July 25, 2015 at 11:38 pm

          “I never claimed the cigarette was a DEADLY weapon, merely A weapon.”

          My mistake, you quoted someone else calling it a deadly weapon.

          “An officer is not required to unnecessarily expose himself to ANY weapon, deadly or not. :-)”

          He did not think it much of a weapon at all apparently, given his subsequent action.

          “So NOW a lit cigarette IS a deadly threat?
          Yeah, that’s what I thought. :-)”

          I’m responding to your claim the cigarette is a threat (but not deadly :)) in this particular situation, a woman in a car with door closed smoking. The officer doesn’t need to stick his head in the window to hand her a citation by the way.

          You may be right in that the officer broke no law (although others with equal lofty credentials disagree), but from all appearances he is simply an asshole unfit to be a LEO. And as I said earlier, the woman brought this (the arrest) on herself. That does not excuse the officer. And of course he has no culpability at all in her suicide.

          Trying to justify his behavior because of a cigarette threat is just silly.

          Trying to justify his behavior because of a cigarette threat is just silly.

          Indeed. Being bitten is another potential concern of law enforcement officers, yet how often do they order drivers to remove their dentures before taking the grave risk of passing a warning notice through the window?

          And we’re neglecting the threat of papercuts here. Why are we even letting civilians handle paper instruments at all?

          If we’re honest with ourselves, we all know what was behind the cigarette issue. And it wasn’t a legitimate fear of bodily harm.

          Gremlin1974 in reply to Barry. | July 26, 2015 at 10:10 pm

          “If we’re honest with ourselves, we all know what was behind the cigarette issue. And it wasn’t a legitimate fear of bodily harm.”

          Ohh, yes Amy please tell us what we are supposed to think? I think what was behind the “cigarette issue” was the officer wanted to see if she would comply with a simple and completely reasonable request?

          Nice try at trying to imply racism as a motive though.

    healthguyfsu in reply to inspectorudy. | July 24, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    There is no Constitutional right to a female police officer to be present when you refuse to comply with a lawful police order from a male officer. Don’t play those stupid games.

    A traffic cop has the right to ask you to get out of the vehicle. You can be smart and comply then save your complaints for the proper channels or you can be stupid and give reasonable suspicion to any sane person when dealing with that level of hostility.

      Elliott in reply to healthguyfsu. | July 24, 2015 at 8:26 pm

      You get out because they need to visually evaluate if you are impaired, overly upset or crazy, fit to drive, and don’t kill someone down the road. If he let her go (on dash video just letting her act possibly impaired and blew it off as too much hassle to deal with her) and she killed someone ten minutes later by running them over he would be in trouble for that too. Damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. The autopsy indicates high levels of marijuana in her system which may indicate impairment in driving so he probably is justified in trying to evaluate her.

      inspectorudy in reply to healthguyfsu. | July 24, 2015 at 10:03 pm

      Didn’t I say that the cop had the right to ask her to get out of the car? As for Rags saying you wouldn’t be popular in the squad room, maybe that is part of the testosterone problem we have in the police forces of America. Why does force have to be the only way when there isn’t a safety threat to the public or cop? A lot of these incidents revolve around a macho “You must do as I say right now” type personalities. Why is it necessary to use force over someone refusing to put out their cigarette or getting out of their car. Stuff your masculine pride and ask for help.

        Ragspierre in reply to inspectorudy. | July 25, 2015 at 10:38 am

        Ummm…for the record, Rags said no such thing.

        Further, WTF are you talking about?

        What BESIDES the use of force are you suggesting when you talk about “calling for help”? You want TWO or THREE LEOs to stand impotently in the face of a refusal to obey a legal order?!?! Maybe a Greek chorus of LEOs would turn the trick? All in unison asking the nice Black-tivist crazy person to pretty please step out of her car?

        Or are you dimly aware that…at the end of the sequence of events…force WILL be applied to ENFORCE the legal order?

          inspectorudy in reply to Ragspierre. | July 25, 2015 at 11:13 am

          Why do you have resort to sarcasm and hyperbole instead of just replying? If there had been a female cop there on the scene are you so obtuse that you can’t see that as a mitigating factor? Or if two male cops were there both with their cameras running don’t you see that would offer a much clearer picture than the truncated video that we now have? I am respectful to any cop whether I’m mad or not but that doesn’t mean that every person has to be a minding robot just because a cop pulls you over. Is there no perspective or judgement any more? Is every traffic stop to be treated like a life and death confrontation? If so we need a public hearing on police force.

          Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | July 25, 2015 at 11:30 am

          Well, ask a stupid question…

          So. We should have all Texas Highway Patrol cars (or vans) staffed with one male, one female, one queer of each gender, a transexual, and a bi-something-or other, just to “mitigate” situations. I’ll just write that up and suggest it to my representatives.

          AND we should have the van equipped with full hi-def cameras and lighting gear to assure that every possible angle is “clearly” and faithfully recorded. With a professional gaffer in the van for the needed technical know-how.

          Of course, as I’ve related before, this isn’t new. During my time at Ft. Wolters, my friend and fellow flight trainee was a CHiP officer and Army Reservist. He told me how back in my old home town of LA, all LEOs were making “open holster” stops for everything, including a tail light being out. “Open holster” meaning with gun drawn. That would be in the early 70s.

          Maybe you should ask the survivors of this LEO…

        “Ummm…for the record, Rags said no such thing.”

        I believe they’re referencing my comment, mistakenly attributing it to you.

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        Ragspierre in reply to inspectorudy. | July 25, 2015 at 1:57 pm

        I’ll point out a few things relevant to this line of thinking…

        1. a female officer DID respond

        2. she was, in all likelihood, black (as Prairie View is a very black jurisdiction)

        3. she was NOT sympathetic to Miss Bland

        4. she did not reproach Patrolman Encinia or try to intervene

        5. there was at least one by-stander who was apparently recording the incident

        6. her video (if there was any) adds nothing to the facts

        Now, as I noted above, Paul Looney is a lawyer of my acquaintance. He does criminal defense work, is is not known as a friend of the police agencies. He has been asked by the local authorities to investigate this case, and will provide his findings.

Every time I see stories like this I am reminded of the Chris Rock video:

How NOT to get your ass kicked by the police:


Step Two: Turn that shit off

Step Three: Be Polite

Step Four: Shut The Fuck Up

Follow these four steps and you will never, EVER be arrested by the police unless you have actually done something blatantly illegal.

(Step Five is get a white friend, which steps on the point of the rest of it, but the rest is still valid).

    MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Olinser. | July 24, 2015 at 8:36 pm

    You skipped six too. Never drive with an angry girlfriend. Then showing the guy pulled over and screaming at the cop “He got weed.”

    Also the second one “Shut that shit off.” They show a guy pulled over with loud rap playing and the rapper yelling “F!@# the police”.

    Hillarious, but warning lot’s of profanity.

    Char Char Binks in reply to Olinser. | July 26, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    Rock will get Cosbied for that, as soon as they’re done with Cosby.

Henry Bowman | July 24, 2015 at 7:16 pm

Personally, I thought that this officer was a flaming ass hole, and my first reaction is to have him taken out and shot dead! This lady did nothing wrong other than to piss off the officer with a not-terribly-snide comment.

Cops like this make me think of the variant of W.T.Sherman’s statement, “the only good cop is a dead cop”.

I hope this guy dies soon before he destroys others lives.

    Elliott in reply to Henry Bowman. | July 24, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    Do you understand that trying to get impaired drivers off the road is for your benefit too? You may not care if an impaired driver kills you but most of us do. She nor you have the right to endanger others.

      citizenjeff in reply to Elliott. | July 24, 2015 at 10:16 pm

      The cop said and did nothing to indicate he suspected impairment, so why did you mention this non sequitur?

        Gremlin1974 in reply to citizenjeff. | July 25, 2015 at 2:39 am

        Actually yes he did, during the discussion about her driver’s licenses and then when he came back to give her the warning.

          citizenjeff in reply to Gremlin1974. | July 25, 2015 at 11:47 am

          Well, Gremlin1974, all I can say is I listened to the tape, and heard nothing about impairment. I saw nothing about it in the affidavit, either. You insist it was said, but you can’t be bothered to be specific. So unless you belatedly clarify yourself, I’ll continue to assume you misinterpreted something that others surely would have interpreted as you did if the interpretation were correct.

          Gremlin1974 in reply to Gremlin1974. | July 25, 2015 at 1:32 pm


          So you are saying that you didn’t hear him during the initial contact if something was wrong? Nor did you hear him ask what was wrong the second time when he walked up with the warning? Also since he asked during the initial interaction it would indicate that he noticed something from the beginning.

          Or are you implying that just because he didn’t use the word impairment that he couldn’t have noticed something just a bit off?

          Also I find it interesting that you give the benefit of the doubt to the mentally ill criminal instead of the police officer.

          It’s really an academic discussion anyway, since everything he did was completely legal and reasonable.

        Mannie in reply to citizenjeff. | July 25, 2015 at 2:07 pm

        In a traffic stop, particularly with erratic driving, you always suspect impairment.

    IrateNate in reply to Henry Bowman. | July 24, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    Ease up, Hank! Perhaps you should step out of the car….

    Gremlin1974 in reply to Henry Bowman. | July 25, 2015 at 2:57 am

    I say this as a professional, I strongly recommend that you seek professional help quickly before your harm yourself or others.

    Personally, I thought that this officer was a flaming ass hole, and my first reaction is to have him taken out and shot dead!

    Statements and attitudes like that are part of the problem, not part of the solution. You’re no better than the creeps who cheered at Walter Scott’s summary execution by Officer Slager.

    It should never be your goal to be as awful as the people you’re railing against.

    Milhouse in reply to Henry Bowman. | July 27, 2015 at 2:04 am

    This lady did nothing wrong?! What about two moving violations within a few minutes of each other, plus refusing a lawful order to get out of the car? None of that is wrong?!

Andrew, I would like to introduce a wrinkle. I find your argument here persuasive and, frankly, I have done about everything you have suggested on such occasions. Hands out in the open. Polite. And in one of your many excellent podcasts, you also debunked the notion–God forbid–you are involved in a shooting that you clam up. You counseled: no, talk to the police and say…X, Y, Z. Great advice. Thank you.

My comment on this thread is personal. I don’t hear at all well and that story recently when the policemen shot and killed one of the men LEGALLY walking with a bicycle he owned. I gather it was ruled a legal shooting.

The person the policeman killed–according to the stories I read–seemed to be confused by conflicting commands? If you are hard of hearing, you CANNOT HEAR when two people are talking. Two people with guns shouting at you? Conflicting commands? Then what?

I wish to comply. I may not be able to hear the lawful command. Then what? I think: stick my hands in the air. Smile. And pray? This is America, right?

There is a notion among those of us in the hearing aid community that we are more likely to be shot in such situations. There are many links of such stories that might lead a reasonable person to suspect this to be the case.

My audiologist said put the symbol of deafness where the police can see it on your window–there is an international symbol which I bet you didn’t know. I did. And I asked people: do you know what that symbol means? No clue.

There is also more going on than this stop. I am thinking the kinds of people who are hired in police departments today are not the same kinds of people who were hired in years passed.

Meanwhile, I stick my hands in the air. No sudden movements. Smile. Officer: I don’t hear well.


    DaveGinOly in reply to drdata. | July 25, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    Also of concern is the arrival of police at a scene where a use of lethal force has been made in self-defense. Involvement in a lethal force incident can cause tunnel vision and auditory exclusion, from which a defender-shooter can still be suffering when the police arrive at the scene. He may neither see nor hear them. The police should know about BAR (Body Alarm Response, the cause of this state) because of their training, but they don’t seem to take this into account when they arrive at the scene of lethal-force incidents. I believe BAR has resulted in several shootings of victims by police, because they were unable to react quickly to their commands due to effects of this physiological response to being involved in a lethal-force incident.

Kerr cites a Fifth Circuit ruling that the officer could be in trouble if:

“(3) the [officer’s] adverse actions were substantially motivated against the [citizens’] exercise of constitutionally protected conduct.”

As for whether such “retaliation” occurred, Kerr just says:

“We can’t answer the third question with confidence, as it is a fact question of what was going through the officer’s head. We just don’t know.”

But it is important to recognize that officers are constantly responding to people’s speech in ways that have nothing to do with retaliation (that are not “motivated against the [citizens’] exercise of constitutionally protected conduct”). These non-retaliatory responses to speech are obvious and normal interpretation of what happened in this case.

The officer is trying to judge whether the woman presents a danger. He has just listened to her state her grievance, which gives some indication of substantial hostility. She admits as much. He could say right there, okay, her constitutionally protected speech shows that she is angry and so it is reasonable for me to judge that, for reasons of my own safety, I should ask her to get out of the car so that she can’t grab a weapon, try to run me over, etcetera.

The fact that she has a right to speak does not mean that any reaction to her speech is retaliation for her speaking. The speech just gives information that helps the officer judge whether she presents a danger.

“Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” That is not a threat by the courts to violate your speech rights! Rather, the things a person says have implications for their judicial outcomes, and the same holds for the outcomes of their encounters with police as well.

Bland’s response to the officer’s request to put out her cigarette gives him further information about whether she presents a danger. His response: “Okay, you can get out of the car now,” clearly indicates that he was trying to judge exactly this: was this woman hostile enough that he had to ask her to get out of the car. It shows he was already on the verge of deciding yes, and this additional indication of hostility decided the question for him.

The “okay” does seem to indicate that the order to get out of the car was in direct response to her refusal to put out the cigarette, but there is nothing wrong with that, any more than if he had judged from her initial speech that she was hostile enough to warrant getting her out of the car.

“Yes I’m angry.” “Okay, please get out of the car then.” Kind of like: “Yes, I killed him.” “Okay, then I’m going to have to place you under arrest.”

To consider the question of retaliation AGAINST free exercise, it has to be recognized that the vast majority of police reactions to speech are not retaliations against speech. They are legitimate responses to information gleaned.

It seems there is some danger here of people jumping to the conclusion that since the officer seems to have been reacting to Bland’s refusal to put out the cigarette that he was retaliating. That is NOT the obvious or normal interpretation, which is that he judged her at that point to be hostile enough that he should get her out of the car, an interpretation that is fully supported by his words and actions.

    inspectorudy in reply to AlecRawls. | July 24, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    Alec, it looks to me like you are falling into the same trap as the cop. Every person a cop stops is a potential deadly suspect until proven otherwise. But there has to be some judgement involved or we may as well have robocops that just know you made an infraction and will be treated as if you had just shot someone. This was an illegal lane change for God’s sake not a hold up. I saw a video of a man with turret’s syndrome who was stopped by a trooper and it was recorded on his video. The aural as well as video are very clear. He was called every name in the book and screamed at but the trooper calmly wrote the ticket and that was that. We need more of that kind of judgement and less OK Corral mentality.

      DaveGinOly in reply to inspectorudy. | July 25, 2015 at 10:24 pm

      Agree completely. Police have a responsibility and obligation to remain clam and professional. In this situation the cop got ticked off because the subject didn’t obey his command to put out her cigarette – not a lawful order because it’s not an offense to smoke during a traffic stop and her smoking was doing nothing to hinder his work. What he was trying to do was maintain control of the situation by issuing a petty command (as police are trained to dominate contacts by making such demands), and he became angered at her non-compliance. Andrew insists that you should comply with all commands, and sort things out later. What about the responsibility of the police to act professionally? As professionals, it’s part of their job to not allow situations to escalate over insignificant intransigence on the part of subjects when that intransigence neither poses a threat nor interferes with their work. The woman violated Andrew’s “sort it out later” rule, but this does not excuse the cop’s behavior or his role in this situation. Cops are SERVANTS, and they should be regularly reminded of that fact.

        That’s a lot of words without actually advocating a practical course of action.

        Are you advocating that suspects fight out their Constitutional rights on the street mid-stop/arrest?

        That’s ONE way to go. I expect a lot of non-cops to get seriously hurt under THAT paradigm, especially if such behavior becomes common and therefore reasonably expected.

        If you’re NOT advocating THAT, and you’re ALSO not advocating on-scene compliance, then whatever you ARE advocating takes place LONG AFTER the stop.

        Which is all I’ve said from the beginning. 🙂

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDEfense

    citizenjeff in reply to AlecRawls. | July 24, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    It wouldn’t be valid to drag her out of the car for the sole purpose of judging her level of hostility. It would be valid only if it were necessary to safely conduct an investigation of her alleged violation. It seems to me the investigation was done. The cop certainly hasn’t explained what else needed to be investigated. So why assume any additional deprivation of liberty was necessary or constitutional?

    Gremlin1974 in reply to AlecRawls. | July 25, 2015 at 2:55 am

    Great analysis and breakdown.

    DaveGinOly in reply to AlecRawls. | July 25, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    “Bland’s response to the officer’s request to put out her cigarette gives him further information about whether she presents a danger.”

    An officer can ask a subject to comply with an unlawful order, and then take the subject’s rightful refusal of the order and use it against him or her? Sorry, it can’t work that way, because police aren’t authorized to give unlawful orders. They therefore can’t take non-compliance with an unlawful order as anything other than what it is – a refusal to comply with an order that shouldn’t have been given in the first place. The only thing the officer can take from that is “This person knows/understands his rights.” Nothing else can be inferred from it, because even someone who is angry still has a right to refuse an unlawful order.

Oh FFS, Andrew. Have you actually watched the video? The cop was just being a dick.

Which I’m sure was all perfectly legal, being as how he was in fear for his life and all from that cigarette.

But, really, aren’t they supposed to screen these guys to make sure they don’t flip out unnecessarily?

    Gremlin1974 in reply to kaf. | July 25, 2015 at 2:15 am

    Have you actually watched the complete video? You have a person who had a radical change in mood from the time you left the car to the time you returned to the car, which can be a sign of mental instability and or drug use. That is why he asked what was wrong was the extreme mood change.

      You have a person who had a radical change in mood from the time you left the car to the time you returned to the car, which can be a sign of mental instability and or drug use.

      Just because I’m a troublesome child, I’ll point out that the officer involved as well demonstrated “a radical change in mood” between the time of his previous traffic stop and when he went off his nut screaming at this girl and threatening her with deadly force for having questioned whether his request for her to extinguish her cigarette was in fact a lawful order (which it was, in fact, not).


        Gremlin1974 in reply to Amy in FL. | July 26, 2015 at 10:03 pm

        “Just because I’m a troublesome child,”

        No, your just anti-cop and willfully incorrect.

        “I’ll point out that the officer involved as well demonstrated “a radical change in mood” between the time of his previous traffic stop and when he went off his nut screaming at this girl”

        Actually no he didn’t, there was no appreciable difference in his attitude towards Mrs. Bland and the previous citizen, until she refused the lawful order to step out of the car.”

        “threatening her with deadly force”

        This is an outright lie, never happened. He threatened to Tazer her which is what he had in his hand, which is non-deadly force by definition. Also his threats of force only came after she refused his lawful order to step out of her vehicle.

        “for having questioned whether his request for her to extinguish her cigarette was in fact a lawful order”

        Really, are we doing the Mrs. Cleo thing now, you seem to indicate you know why the officer asked her to exit the vehicle, which much mean you can read minds. You do realize his request for her to exit could have been completely unrelated to asking her to put out the cigarette and could have been based on something he observed and or the total of all the things he had observed.

        “(which it was, in fact, not).”

        Exactly, because as you have helpfully proven for us it wasn’t an order at all, so continuing to imply that it was doesn’t make it true it just makes you a liar.

        Oh, and to address your other comment below.

        “And yet, it appears that it was her non-compliance with his request”

        Yes, and “appearances” mean everything, they are just as good a evidence and fact, right? geez. Basically what it comes down to is you condemning an officer based on what is actually very little evidence because of your perception of that evidence and your anti-cop perceptions.

        “(which, had it been an order, would have been an unlawful order)”

        Yes, and if Eve had just left that darned fruit alone we would all be living in the Garden of Eden. Which is just a relevant an argument as pointing out that “if” something had been an order it would have been unlawful.

        “which led to him threatening her with a deadly weapon”

        Once again an outright lie.

        “and ordering her out of her car.”

        Perfectly legal order.

        “What should we make of that?”

        Well its obvious that what you believe we should make of that is that this officer is just a complete asshole who should be fired because of your perceptions. Thats what I make of it.

          Barry in reply to Gremlin1974. | July 27, 2015 at 1:02 am

          “Well its obvious that what you believe we should make of that is that this officer is just a complete asshole who should be fired because of your perceptions. Thats what I make of it.”

          At least you get one thing correct.

MouseTheLuckyDog | July 25, 2015 at 12:07 am

Andrew, did he have PC for a sobriety test?

Between the first time and the second time she has clearly become more agitated. He asks her to put out her cigarette. Every smoker I know is constantly asked to put out their cigarettes. But she gets even more agitated.

Given also that some drivers use cigarettes to mask the odor of alcohol or pot when pulled over. Since he didn’t ask the first time, I presume she lit it up when he was writing her up.

Did he have probable cause to ask her to step out of the car and take a sobriety test?

    Gremlin1974 in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | July 25, 2015 at 2:20 am

    Not sure about the PC issue, but I would point out that the standard field sobriety test is only useful for certain types of impairment. Honestly most people who are baked will be able to pass it pretty easily. So even if he did have PC he may have suspected other drugs at play based on her fairly radical mood swing.

The woman was an a-hole, But man, so was that cop.

Do we want to live in a country where cops can do this and force citizens to struggle for remedies after this kind of dangerous bullying?

This cop egged her on with his persistent questioning about what she was angry over. If he was trying to simply get her talking to see if she was under the influence, he accomplished that, and he should have taken it down a notch after he got her talking about what she was angry about — it would have completely avoided this insanity.

Just imagine Obamacare cops doing this to YOU.

Wait — you mean you didn’t know Obamacare creates a private police force for our psycho president? —

    “Do we want to live in a country where cops can do this and force citizens to struggle for remedies after this kind of dangerous bullying?”

    The “struggle for remedies” is ALWAYS after the fact.

    The prospects for “winning” an argument with a cop on the side of the road, especially if you’re calling him an m’fer and pussy, are vanishingly slight.

    The practical choices are:

    (1) Comply, and THEN seek remedy after the fact.

    (2) Get your ass arrested, car towed, enjoy company of holding cell for the weekend, appear before magistrate, obtain bail, legal retainer (thank you), answer “yes” to “have you ever been arrested” for the rest of your life, and THEN seek remedy after the fact. And THAT’s the GOOD outcome for option (2), that assumes no real physical injury or a conviction for resisting.

    I urge option (1), but it’s your call.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      jcarter50 in reply to Andrew Branca. | July 28, 2015 at 3:51 pm

      While I don’t disagree with your advice I do have a question: Let’s say — and this is purely hypothetical and does not refer to anything I or anyone I know is currently involved with — you’re doing something entirely within your rights, let’s say sitting in a lawn chair on the front yard of your home, which you own outright in your own name, drinking a beer in a jurisdiction where drinking alcohol in public is not prohibited under state law or local ordinances. You’ve only had one sip of this, your first beer of the day (and you’re clearly not publicly intoxicated) and a beat cop comes walking along, stops and tells you to throw away the beer or take it inside to drink it. You ask why and he replies, “I’m not going to argue with you. Either get rid of it or go inside, or I’m taking you in.” I absolutely agree that the only prudent thing to do at this point is to comply one way or the other and let’s say that you do by going inside your residence to finish the beer.

      Now let’s also say that when the facts are all known that the cop had absolutely no right to issue that order, i.e. that it was not a “lawful order.”

      Here’s the questions: What is it going to cost to sue the cop and/or the department and what’s the chance you’re going to win a judgment against one or the other or both of them. What are the chances that you’re going to recover your attorney’s fees and court costs? How much time off work and inconvenience are you going to have to spend pursuing that suit? (I don’t mean those questions to be rhetorical, either: I’d like to hear your answers.)

      I’m not asking those questions for the purpose of arguing that you should have defied the order. That would be stupid. At least by going inside it’s _your_ decision to determine what your expenses and inconvenience are going to be, if any. But, first, what are those likely to be should you decide to pursue them and, second, why should you be put to them when you had the right to be where you were doing what you were doing?

        JWB in reply to jcarter50. | July 28, 2015 at 4:28 pm

        There’s a zero percent chance of success at trial. It wouldn’t even make it to trial. It’d be dismissed during the initial pleadings because police have qualified immunity: unless there’s absolutely no question at *all* that the officer was wrong, the case is dismissed.

        Pre-emptively @Branca – I know the formal rule is different. I’m talking strictly about its application.

          jcarter50 in reply to JWB. | July 29, 2015 at 3:06 pm

          So, then, Andrew’s statement earlier in this thread that “The practical choices are: (1) Comply, and THEN seek remedy after the fact.” is incorrect and should actually say, “Comply, and THEN seek remedy after the fact (but realize you’re not going to be able to get any remedy).”?

Fuller dash-cam video at the link below seems to show the actual reason Officer Encinia pulled Bland over. She emerges from a side street that has a stop sign without ever slowing down below about 10mph. Right after that he does a U turn and follows her:

So it is very strange that the story is being framed as he pulled her over for an illegal lane change. Isn’t that just the spin that Bland put on it? When he asks her if she is irritated she says yes, because all she did was change lanes when he came up behind her and now she is getting a ticket. But that is obviously not why he turned around to follow her.

Is lane change violation in the police report? If so it would seem that Encinea let himself be influenced by Bland’s spin. It seems very clear in the video that he turned after her because she ran the stop sign.

More likely is that Encinea recognized that she was a con artist, putting a dishonest spin on what had just happened, which probably put him up one more notch in terms of thinking she could be dangerous. He had just witnessed her put on a nervy act of the kind that indicates a practiced liar and escape artist, and his “are you done?” indicates that he doesn’t have a lot of patience for her fraud.

    What about the cop’s illegal u-turn, performed sans signal himself?

      Milhouse in reply to Amy in FL. | July 27, 2015 at 3:03 am

      When a cop does it it’s not illegal. Often that really is the case, just as it’s often the case that “if the president does it it’s not illegal”. (One example of that is leaking classified information; if the president authorises the disclosure then by definition it’s not a leak, and it’s legal.)

Another video confirms that Encinea was NOT pulling Bland over for any lane change. He tells his supervisor how Bland was trying to claim he pulled her over for a lane change and wouldn’t let him say what he was actually pulling her over for:

You can see what he was actually pulling her over for at the beginning of the video here:

She runs a stop sign on her way out of a side street and Encinea immediately U-turns after her.

Has anybody completed a count of the number of times Miss Bland called Officer Encinea a ‘pussy’?

While I find the discussion about the legality of the stop very interesting and informative. What I believe is the bigger picture is that The President and his administration is what create situations like this one. The administration has told a class of people that they are victims and that they will be rewarded with fame and money if they make a scene and resist law enforcement.

I personally put this solely and squarely on the shoulders of Ms. Brand and the President of the United States! This does not end well for anyone.

The left is trying to make the general public distrust and (it’s not hyperbolic to say) hate the police, and they are being quite successful in these goals. These leftists are the remnants and acolytes of the disaffected, narcissistic radicals from the ’60’s: the hate America, hate the “pigs,” hate “the man,” hate, hate, hate mob who preached love and peace while bombing the Pentagon, endangering American troops, spewing rancid vitriol, and generally disrupting society.

While most people–including myself–would put out their cigarette and step out of the car if asked to do so by a police officer, there is a growing segment of the population who think they can flout authority with impunity. And in a truly unfortunate turn of events, a lot of conservatives seem to be jumping on this bandwagon.

The idea that we can just say, naw, thanks, anyway, I think I’ll keep puffing away on my potential weapon and stay in the car where I might have access to a second weapon or can use the car as a weapon or to (try to) escape is dangerous. Not just to the uncivilized person failing to comply with a reasonable and lawful order by a law enforcement officer but to all of society. If the authority of police is truly undermined in America, as is the clear goal of the left, we’re going to be in a world of . . . poop.

That’s the problem with the leftists’ stranglehold on our culture; it’s so very pervasive that we soak it up without even realizing it. Why are we debating whether or not you should do what a cop tells you do to during a routine traffic stop? Why is anyone questioning whether the police have this authority? Geez, when a cop tells you to do something, you do it, and you do so politely and with the respect that they have earned and deserve. (mandatory disclaimer: yes, there are bad cops out there. Always have been, always will be. That changes nothing.)

Why is anyone saying that this woman died because of a “traffic stop”? Or making wild statements about how awful the police are in parts of America? Or implying, if not directly stating, this wouldn’t have happened if she were white? Setting aside her apparent depression and suicide, she created the situation that led to her being hauled off to jail. She did. The fact that the same thing wouldn’t happen to me has nothing to do with my “white privilege” and her race . . . unless “white privilege” means knowing how to behave in public and how to interact with the police. Maybe it does mean just that . . . that’s the subject of a whole separate rant.

Creating and then rabble rousing a victim class and convincing them that the police have no authority and deserve no respect is a sure way to undermine all authority. That’s why when radical leftists do manage to take control of populations, the first people “removed” from their utopia are the very people who made it possible.

Interesting read, BUT…

ARGH. There is no “use of force continuum” (unless one works for a department stuck in the Dark Ages.) Please, Mr. Branca: Officers (should) use that amount of force that is objectively reasonable under the circumstances. Period. The old “use of force continuum” is nothing but fodder for the defense bar.

The problem here is that the officer only asked her to step out of the car after, and because of, her refusal to obey an order that was not lawful. By allowing himself to become riled, he behaved unprofessionally. A professional would have known the order wasn’t lawful and would have just let it slide. (Let’s not try to fool anyone, he didn’t tell her to get out of the car because of “officer safety,” he did it because he became angry she refused his order to put out her cigarette.) The officer unnecessarily escalated the confrontation because he allowed his ego to get in the way of his duties. Police are taught to take control of situations, and one of the ways they do this is to dominate the subject with minor commands and demand compliance. When his subject refused to be dominated (bullied) with an unlawful command, the officer lost his cool.

Can officers lawfully order subjects out of cars for purposes of officer safety? Yes, they can. But that’s not what happened here. The officer ordered her out of her car because he was angry, not because he felt threatened.

The officer’s reaction to her non-compliance with her refusal of an unlawful order was unprofessional unnecessary, and overly-aggressive. Have the officer checked for steroid use.

Me: Eight years in a cop shop, working on regulation and training manuals.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to DaveGinOly. | July 25, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    Please point out the “unlawful” order. It is common practice for police to ask people to put out their cigarettes for safety and because it can be used to cover smells and to help mitigate certain behaviors. I have been asked to put out my cigarette when I was stopped and I haven’t smoked in 10 years. Funny enough, I simply and reasonably complied and that was the end of it.

    There was no “unlawful” order, period.

One thing I learned early on, is that if you pick a fight you cannot win, unpleasant things will happen to you. If you pick a fight with the cops, you will lose. If you pick a fight with a cop who is also a thug, you will lose badly. Some cops are thugs. We can argue about how many, but these pages have demonstrated that some cops are thugs.

It is very important that, in a confrontation like this, there should be an adult present. You must assume that that adult may have to be you.

@Andrew: I full agree that the only wise thing to do in an encounter with a LEO is to comply (and Orin Kerr’s other article over at Volokh on Sandra Bland is very relevant to that question: making the case that you can never be sure whether or not you have the right to refuse to comply). But saying that one should just go along and contest it in court later is a bit glib and ignores the issue of cost. Suing the cops for a civil rights violation, unless you get free help from some civil rights organization, is going to cost tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, which you stand a very good chance of never getting back. I fully agree about the wisdom of where you want to pay that cost: in your criminal defense costs if you don’t comply or in your civil attorney fees if you do, but if the purpose of our constitutional rights is to protect us against the government then being put to that choice seems odd at best and inappropriate at most. And that’s particularly true in situations where particular officers or departments have a proven record of civil rights violations.

    Yes, I thought that was a good piece too. The lawyers over at The Volokh Conspiracy seem less ready to accept this slide towards an authoritarian police state (“Don’t Question Authority!”), more inclined to err on the side of civil rights, and more protective of the Constitution in general than some folks over here seem to be.

    What’s that saying, about sacrificing freedom for security…?

I’m guessing that the reason Encinea asked Bland to put out her cigarette was because he had already decided to ask her to step out of her car and he didn’t want to get a lit cigarette in his face.

Why would he have already decided to get her out of her car? Because he had just listened to her fabricate a cock-and-bull story about how the reason he U-turned after her 60 seconds ago was because she changed lanes 30 seconds ago.

“I can’t believe you are giving me a ticket for pulling over so you can give me a ticket!” THAT is the lane change she claimed he pulled her over for: when he came up behind her and she pulled over.

So he knows she’s just about as brassy a bullshit artist as you are going to find, plus she is angry, plus she ran the stop sign. He had every reason to judge that this was somebody who he needed to ask to get out of her car, a judgement that proved to be exactly right.

“I can’t believe you are giving me a ticket for pulling over so you can give me a ticket!” THAT is the lane change she claimed he pulled her over for: when he came up behind her and she pulled over.

My answer to that would have been, “No, The illegal lane change you made after running the stop sign. I was going to let that one slide, but you’ve convinced me to write a ticket for that, now.”

But I admit I’d make a lousy cop. About half way through her shenanigans, I wanted to whack her with a baton.

I’m concerned about his ability to de-escalate this one.

she didn’t use turn signal, while a stupid reason its lawful for him to stop her and since the plan was just a warning there was no evil intent behind it.
her being stopped and subsequent arrest are her own fault.
the suicide…hard for someone else to suicide you…you do it to yourself.
whether there was missing oversight is a different issue and may be problems there, I don’t know.

and it all could have been avoided if he was able to de-escalate it.
I’ve had cigar tried to be used on me on a stop, person had maglite buried in their mouth and their head and shoulder out of the window and bent backwards before it got close. the only real time they can do something is during the handing of paperwork back and forth and its easy to avoid it.

    Ragspierre in reply to dmacleo. | July 25, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    “… it all could have been avoided if he was able to de-escalate it.”

    Well, that takes away ALLLLL of her responsibility for her conduct AND ASSumes that he COULD have de-escalated the interaction.

    There’s nothing to indicate he could have been “nice enough” to stop her from being a crazy person.

    BOTH of them are responsible for their respective behaviors, and his was not egregious (though it appears to have been blameworthy according to his superiors).

      true, which is why I said concerned about his ability vs directly accusing him of anything.
      I watched the whole video a bit ago and just seemed to me he didn’t really care to but thats just an impression I got.

Jessica Sterling Arrest: Another lesson In Non Compliance

Ms. Sterling stole a car and led police on a high speed chase. Didn’t comply with police officers. Headbutted a police officer. Even tried to take an officer’s weapon. She’s alive. We know why.

She failed the attitude test.

Char Char Binks | July 25, 2015 at 8:12 pm

Everybody seems to be missing the point — A black woman died, so a white man must pay.

According to the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) the local District Attorney has opened an investigation into Mr. Encinia’s conduct.

Although Ms. Bland showed poor judgment Mr. Encinia’s behavior is not praiseworthy. Mr. Encina only sought to escalate — not defuse. Perhaps that is how he was trained. But other police agencies disagree.

Houston Police Chief McClelland referred to Encina’s conduct as “over the line… People can smoke in their car…People can talk back to police”. One police chief I know said “you can yell at me, scream at me, curse me — just don’t touch me.”

While Mr. Encinia may not be a criminal he is a disgrace to law enforcement.

Mr. Branca’s advice is sound. One never knows when you will an officer like Mr. Encinia.

    Ragspierre in reply to dystopia. | July 26, 2015 at 9:38 am

    Dude! Please!

    McClellend is a typical Collectivist big-city po-leeece chief who WILL say the PC thing reliably, since that’s how he got and keeps his job.

    And NOOOOOObody here has said you can’t smoke in your car, or talk back to a LEO.

    So, please, enough with the effort to materially change the facts. MmmmmK…???

    Oh, and the investigation you imply is targeted at Trooper Encinias, isn’t. It’s a general investigation of all the police and sheriff conduct in the matter. I know the guy doing it.

    bvw in reply to dystopia. | July 27, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    THE COURTS over a few decades have escalated the rudeness and de-escalated the accountability due FROM public servants at every level. Hamburger covers that very well in his recent book “Is Administrative Law Unlawful.”

    The courts thus have made the police beasts, or at least given them to often the liberty of acting like beasts. Yet for the sake of professional honor they could be easily local tyrants and goons with recourse.

    Before the mid twentieth century, and certainly before the rise of the modern police force in the late 1800’s, This officers imprudent demand about the cigarette and her getting out of the car would have been grounds for her bringing a suit for false arrest against him. How exactly is this “officer’s” demand less than that of the British troops who seized Hanock’s ship Liberty, or who marched to seize what they deemed an unsafe store of arms at Concord and Lexington.

    Or even the misbehavior of the British Trooper housed — by legal demand then — in the colonial house on a kinsmen of mine when he demanded the best cut of the Sunday pork roast. “Put out that cigarette, ye subject of the King!”

    Andrew Braca may well advise what is safe deportment around these modern armored thugs in uniform when they demand “OBEY”, that that advice and the conditions of the current legal and administration systems that require it are profoundly UN-AMERICAN.

What we need is zero tolerance all around, and an end to police immunity.

It should not be acceptable for cops to break the laws they’re allowed to kill us for not complying with.

I’ve always been taught that you’re meant to signal when making a u-turn, for instance…

    Elliott in reply to Amy in FL. | July 25, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    Cops I see making U turns do signal. Should they stay within the speed limit chasing suspects too? Driving from Austin to Houston last week I was behind a Tx DPS patrol car driving the speed limit. After 10 miles or so there were about 50 cars lined up behind him who had to slow down. We couldn’t speed. Bummer.

    My post is limited to the law as it actually exists.

    As I EXPLICITLY stated in the FIRST PARAGRAPH, my post did NOT address policy or procedure.

    If you’d prefer that the law in the future be different than it is today, or the policy or the procedure, I encourage you to advocate accordingly.

    Feel that the police or too over-bearing, too unrestrained? Good for you. You’ve a mission.

    In THIS case under THESE facts under CURRENT law THIS cop did NOTHING illegal.

    That’s the extent of my claimed expertise. I leave the policy and procedure and the future of law enforcement’s relationship to the public up to the rest of you. 🙂

    If you can figure out a system that provides greater privacy rights to suspects while still adequately protecting the safety of the police, I’m happy to hear it.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      If you’d prefer that the law in the future be different than it is today, or the policy or the procedure, I encourage you to advocate accordingly.

      Yes sir, I’m working on it 😉

      At the moment, my organized efforts here in Florida have been concentrated on supporting Families Against Mandatory Minimums ( Railing against police abuse has largely been confined to personal conversations and blogs, largely because (a) the two local Sheriff’s departments which affect me most are actually pretty exemplary in their behavior, and I’m more of a local rather than national activist; and (b) the existing national organizations out there purporting to be interested in curbing police abuses are far too extreme for my liking. I’m not anti-cop. I’m anti-bad cop, and anti bad-cop apologist. I would no more identify with a mob like #BlackLivesMatter than I would with #Occupy.

    Char Char Binks in reply to Amy in FL. | July 25, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    The blinkers weren’t visible in the vid, so how do you know he didn’t use them? And if he used the flashers, also not visible from the dash cam, that would suffice.

    Ragspierre in reply to Amy in FL. | July 26, 2015 at 9:30 am

    Amy has a crazy side she lets out periodically.

    Like she has here. I would bet Amy that the DPS officer had his pretty lil’ light bar alllllllll lit up like Father Christmas was in town when he made his U-turn…the beginning of a pursuit.

      I would bet Amy that the DPS officer had his pretty lil’ light bar alllllllll lit up like Father Christmas was in town when he made his U-turn…the beginning of a pursuit.

      I think you can tell when the flashers went on by when the dashcam starting recording sound. That was after the u-turn.

        Ragspierre in reply to Amy in FL. | July 26, 2015 at 12:06 pm

        You “think” based on what for evidence?

        Apparently you “think” LEOs can “kills us” for an illegal lane change.

        Pro tip, Amy: NO vodka with your Wheaties.

        Gremlin1974 in reply to Amy in FL. | July 26, 2015 at 10:07 pm

        “Watch the full video, and pay attention to when the sound recording ends at the conclusion of the first traffic stop, and beings at the start of the next.”

        Actually there are several different systems for when and how recording begins. Some are activated by the officer, some are activated when the officer leaves his car and some are activated with the lights.

        Oh, and I blame your iced tea as well, apparently its ice tea of the long island variety.

    Skookum in reply to Amy in FL. | July 30, 2015 at 7:34 am

    Get rid of judicial immunity first.

I wonder if the the policeman is a white Hispanic love to see a picture. I think he showed his rookie status , he was trying to get it under control but was a little bit overwhelmed, What just amazes me is that the one learning experience out of this that no one picked up on is that this could have initiated discussion on mental health issues , she was cutting herself and apparently not getting any help. But no, we are fixed on how she was (murdered) . Her family was not answering her calls, was it just unconcern or was it just exhaustion that dealing with a family member who is mentally ill can cause. Were they just letting her stay a few days to try to teach her consequences. I hope in the end they just don’t try to get a pay day out of this. I dealt with my ex wife , she is black bi polar , would not take her medicine and when I heard this woman snap on him , it brought back memories. Look at her booking picture, As opposed to her selfies she was spiraling down, when in depression stage , people don’t take care of themselves, Yes I could hear it in this young ladies voice . It’s a shame but when people are in this state there is not one thing this officer could have done once it started going downhill.

Please Andrew, we need more Mosby, Freddie Gray commentary .Been a couple weeks since update and would love some insight on this new motion filed to sanction the officers lawyers

    The Prof asked me about this just today, especially after the State nonsensically asked for sanctions against the defense for doing, well, what defense counsel are supposed to do.

    What nonsense, and just more circumstantial evidence that the State has nothing substantive to bring against these six officers.

    That said, my inclination is to deal with substance, and the State prosecutors have so far been largely successful at keeping the substantive evidence–assuming they even HAVE any incriminating substantive evidence–suppressed. Without evidence I can’t do much more than speculate, and speculation is not very attractive to me.

    Be assured, when I have some evidentiary meat to gnaw on, I’ll be more than happy to chew into it, and share my perceptions with Legal Insurrections. 🙂

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

So now the debate seems to be over the mugshot of Bland. Some are saying that her mugshot should not have included her in a jumpsuit. Someone may need to remind me, but arent mugshots sometimes done with the subject in a jumpsuit and not just their plain clothes?

I think the cop had the opportunity to be the bigger person, and he seriously messed that up. There are probably dozens of times a day when police engage is small, quiet acts of heroism by not pulling rank on odiously rude civilians, and of course we never hear about it.

I live in New York, so back in November and December, I saw lots of TV footage of local anti-police protests after the Eric Garner grand jury finding.

I felt overwhelming respect and empathy for the scores of police offices who quietly and professionally escorted and protected marchers who were vilifying and demonizing the very people who were safeguarding their right to protest. There were times when I felt like shouting, “Hey, idiots! Do you see those men and women in blue standing between you and those irate motorists whose commute you’re making miserable? Are you sure you don’t want their presence on the streets?”

I have a question for the lawyers/law enforcement personnel out there…Sandra Bland was a scofflaw in her home state of Illinois, owing thousands of dollars in unpaid driving violation fines. Would that have shown up on a license plate check? Would it have been a factor in the determination of her bail? Thanks!

    Ragspierre in reply to annav. | July 26, 2015 at 11:04 am

    That indicates she was “magistrated” on the 11th, the morning after her arrest, and bail was set at $5000.00, which is really pretty low.

    She also declines the appointment of an attorney.

    There are probably dozens of times a day when police engage is small, quiet acts of heroism by not pulling rank on odiously rude civilians, and of course we never hear about it.

    For the record, I’ve seen videos posted by wannabe “eff the police” types (often from out of state themselves, and itching for a fight) featuring local Sheriff’s Department officers here in North Florida which make me want to run up and hug the officer involved for having exercised nearly superhuman patience, forbearance and good humor in the face of blatantly “cop-baiting” behavior. It can be done. And ideally it would be done, everywhere and by every officer.

    Like they say, “rudeness is a weak man’s imitation of strength”. I’m grateful that our local Sheriff’s officers by and large have enough internal confidence that they are largely able to brush off other citizens’ rudeness without feeling compelled to resort to it themselves. They earn themselves a huge helping of community support by comporting themselves as they do.

      Twanger in reply to Amy in FL. | July 29, 2015 at 6:58 pm

      “rudeness is a weak man’s imitation of strength”
      Wow. Excellent quote. Quote of the day, for me.
      Any idea who said this Amy? In FL?

Bernardo Stevens | July 27, 2015 at 7:32 pm

Somebody please explain to me why the officer asked her to put out the cigarette. Yes, I know a lit cigarette is a weapon. But at that point I don’t see why he would have wanted her out of the car.

    You have a visibly aggravated person with a lit cigarette. Are you going to reach in the window and hand her paperwork to sign? He was looking out for his safety not being a jerk or punishing her.

Bernardo Stevens | July 27, 2015 at 7:43 pm

After watching the video and hearing the interaction, it’s clear to me that he ordered her out of the car to punish her for not being deferential enough. In my opinion, the degree to which she talked back was very mild.
But it angered him, and he was going to punish her by making her exit the car.

    guyjones in reply to Bernardo Stevens. | July 29, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    How is a cop giving a lawful request to a citizen to exit their vehicle reasonably labeled a “punishment?” You need to look the word “punishment” up in the dictionary, because your understanding of its meaning is rather flawed.

At this point, it seems that the Sandra Bland story has been disappeared from any new media coverage. Furthermore, her family has requested that social media stop reporting speculation about her death and that there be no further protests. Anyone know what’s going on?

    bvw in reply to annav. | July 28, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    Another fellow human beaten down into submission and despair. Know why cops have high suicide rates? I suspect it’s because the job is all wrong, it’s unnatural.

    Humans should police one another. Not train and equip some subset of us like dog fighting aficionados train pit bulls.

Assertions of civil rights MUST be made clear at the point, the time and place where they are assaulted. That is AMERICAN.

Sorry Doctor Branca, for you a true doctor of the law “de facto” of your work on personal defense law, but to hold that one should postpone speaking up as a freeman or freewoman even in the face of an armed thug in uniform is un-American.

Sandra’s mistake was in committing suicide out of despair. Folks caught under juggernaut of the modern police state need to know that sharp and learned folks like you are on their side.

I’m sorry folks, but my grandfather was a cop – and then Chief of Police – in a small town in the rural midwest and I cannot watch this video without being absolutely outraged by the behavior of this cop. This policeman’s behavior is utterly and completely disgraceful.

For starters…Yes it is true that this woman didn’t make a complete stop at the stop sign. And yes, she failed to signal when she was moving over so the officer (or any slower traffic) could pass her. Neither of those offenses should have – under these circumstances – led to her arrest.

Having said that, this cop’s decision to pull her over is ridiculous and is a textbook example of a cop looking to exercise his petty authority over someone weaker than him to stroke his own ego.

This cop should have either followed for a few blocks and then driven away or written her a simple ticket for failing to stop at the sign. But pulling her over for failure to signal is the prototypical “pretext” stop. This kind of thing happens ALL THE TIME and has happened to me more times than I can count. In this case, the streets were practically empty. She represented absolutely no threat or danger to anyone around her. Even while following her the cop could see she was obeying the speed limit and that she was stopped at the light.

And once he pull her over and gets her license, etc., *HE* is the one who asks her what’s wrong. He starts the conversation and she has the guts to tell him that she thinks it’s BS that’s she’s getting a ticket for failure to signal. And you know what, SHE’S RIGHT. And not only that, it’s her CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to express her opinion. And, the cop ASKED HER. And what the cop does next doesn’t “smack of” or “seem like” a retaliatory move, it is a DELIBERATELY PROVOCATIVE move designed to escalate the situation so the cop can maneuver the driver into a position where he can then exercise physical authority over her. PERIOD. END OF STORY. He has no right or authority to ask her to put out her cigarette. She presents no threat to him, she’s in her car, she’s made no threatening moves.

Once she tells him no, the cop knows he’s got her exactly where he wants her – and he starts his endgame to physically dominate her. She is ABSOLUTELY right that she hasn’t committed an offense for which she can be arrested and that she’s done nothing else to merit an arrest. She is ABSOLUTELY right that the cop can’t ask her to get out of the car because HE HAS NO PROBABLE CAUSE TO ASK HER TO GET OUT OF HER CAR. Everything that follows his unlawful demand to exit the vehicle is a violation of her Constitutional rights as an American citizen. PERIOD.

I sincerely hope this woman’s family sues the ever-living hell out of the city and that this cop is never allowed to join a police force ever again. Cops have tough jobs – and most cops are fine, upstanding people – but their jobs are made ever harder by egotistical thugs like this jackhole.

    bvw in reply to LCP. | July 30, 2015 at 9:03 pm

    The great majority of people and that includes cops are fine upstanding people. But it’s not fine for people to be trained to be sheep by those who advocate not stating what you believe your rights to be to another citizen. By indemnifying cops, just like indemnifying administrative bureaucrats, and elected politicians — we assure that the most corrupt and brutal will join their ranks, and once established in those indemnified and sometimes even vainly glorified ranks — their bully dispositions overtake the peaceable and humble.

    In time the whole institution is a institutional bully, and so to every cog and spindle in it. It’s not different than the IRS, the EPA and their state equivalents.

    How does one stay a good citizen is such a time? It ain’t easy. If the TSA’s daily sexual molestation of millions each week tells us anything, is that there are FEW good citizens willing to stand up to institutionalized bullying. The vigilance our founders said would be needed, the eternal vigilance against threats foreign and domestic has been horridly and wholly breached.

    Still, as Justice Thomas said in the the dissent to the awful homosexual marriage dicta —
    “Human dignity can not be taken away by government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. … The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.”

    Remember your dignity! It is from our Creator, no one less than He can take it away. Let no man try to take another’s away, and do not stand by while the dignity of others is assaulted. Guard you own!

    That is what being a “sovereign citizen” means to me.

    It is why I loathe the indignity too many automobile age policing habits have assaulted us all with. From stops for broken taillights, lack of front plate, whatever we have gotten, sadly, to the abuses suffered by the TSA when we fly, or the IRS should we donate to a Tea Party group. or in some states in their modern vicious temper — when we refuse to bake a cake for a “wedding” that celebrates a human perversion.