Life is truly a series of moments; and decisions within those moments that can alter or ultimately lead to the end of your life. I watched the entire Sandra Bland arrest video and it made me sick. And it enraged me. And it made me sad because the moment is there. The moment that led to her death. And it didn’t start with her. It started with the police officer. It’s all right there on tape. It’s audible. It’s evident.
That one moment on July 10th led to her hanging in her cell three days later, on July 13th. Hopefully, we’ll find out what truly happened, but I have absolutely no faith in the system. Also, one of the most alarming things about this video that featured many alarming things is listening to the police officers – the arresting officer and the second officer on the scene – describing what they call the attempts to de-escalate the situation. Cops gon’ cop, but the fact is, people in that situation, once escalated – BY THE COP, NO LESS – are going to react the same way. I don’t know the laws of Texas, but I do know that her civil liberties as a person were violated in numerous ways.
But the moment.
The stop happens very routinely. She is driving in front of him and changes lanes without signalling. This is fact. It’s on the video. He decided to pull her over for this reason. We can chalk that up to a slow day. His previous stop didn’t indicate this to be an officer with a vendetta or one who was having a bad day. He made a choice to pull her over as is his right as a member of law enforcment. He goes to the passenger side of her car to get her information. She is non-plussed. He notices. Initially, he let it ride. He is a police officer; he likely understands that nobody likes being pulled over, especially for failure to signal a lane change, no matter how the officer explains it.
A few minutes pass as he runs her information, which obviously comes back clean. He then walks back over to the driver’s side of her car. In the video, this is around the 8:40 mark.
And that’s when it all goes to shit. It’s not when she’s pulled out of the car – which she was – or when she’s being slammed to the ground as she alleges in the background. It’s not when her arm is in pain and she reacts, as any human being would do, especially with tempers already flared.
No, it’s when he decides to toss a micro-aggression her way for absolutely no reason. It happens at the 8:46 mark of the video when he decides to be a dick and ask her, “Are you okay?” to which she responds – irritably – that she’s waiting on him to do his job. He then says to her, “you seem irritated.”
And that is the moment that started it all. Nobody who has ever been pulled over by a cop for what they perceive to be bullshit – a failure to signal a lane change is bullshit, even if it is a ticket-able offense – isn’t irritated. Every time I’ve ever been pulled over, and its been plenty, I’ve been irritated. I’ve been told to get out of my car on three occasions for exhibiting and directing even a modicum of irritation at police officer. It’s an unnecessary question as it’s intended to lord power over the person in the car. He knows she’s irritated. He knows exactly why. There is zero point to asking that question aside from hoping she’ll just suck it up and say, “nothing” and stay quiet. He knows he has both the authority and power to ruin her day (which ends up ultimately ending her life) and he lobs a grenade to see if she’ll throw it back at him.
And she does, by responding with an explanation. She explains that she thought he was coming up behind her quickly so she moved out of the way, which is something that many people would do. It is important to note that he wasn’t actually ticketing her but giving her a warning, probably because he also realizes that pulling somebody over for a failure to signal a lane change is bullshit.
While her response was not delivered in a friendly tone, it wasn’t confrontational, it was irritated. Or no more confrontational than anybody else being pulled over would be when actively engaging a police officer who has pretended like they did you a favor by pulling you over. Then he lobs another grenade at her:
“Are you done?”
At this point, they both have attitudes with one another, but one of them is in a position of power and decides to exert his force by making the request to put out the cigarette; I cannot imagine she was blowing smoke in his face. She was rightly additionally irritated by that request. He, again realizing his position, decided to require her to do more to prove to her that he was, indeed, the one with power in the situation. And that’s where the clock began ticking on her life. We all know that three days later she’d be found hanging in her jail cell.
I don’t see how anybody, law enforcement or civilian, watching what happened next can’t see that she should have never been forced from her car or arrested. It was ego, plain and simple. His ego. She should have never been arrested and placed in a cell in the first place. I don’t care how many “bitch asses” or “pussies” she called him. It never should have gotten that far. But it did. And it’s because this cop decided to passive aggressively poke the bear. Could she have just sucked it up? Possibly. I think most of us, especially those of us who are minorities, probably wouldn’t have engaged the cop at all. But she was irritated, a human right, and she explained herself, because he asked. And he didn’t like it. He is also human and he let his own emotions get the best of him. You cannot convince me otherwise. This Black woman was not kowtowing to his authority. She wanted him to just give her the damn ticket (warning) so they could move on.
(I should note here that I do not think this was racially motivated.)
The hardest thing to watch about the video is the police officers explaining how they aren’t in the wrong and how she assaulted the main cop, who actually assaulted her to begin with as far as I’m concerned. I wanted to yell through the screen that they were lying. I will also never understand being a Black cop. But to hear them blame her for her own situation without ANY recognition that it could be instigated by the other officer is baffling, if not expected. This is the problem with policing; cops don’t think that cops are doing anything wrong and HAVE to act in such fashion. This is why I can’t stand cops now. Individually, a police officer can be a cool person, as an institution I have no faith in police. They never think they’re wrong. They always believe they’re doing what they have to.
They always think they’re justified and the courts have reinforced this. It is always the other person’s fault to the police. Always.
Meanwhile, Sandra Bland, another in a long line of individuals, regardless of color, is dead. I don’t know what happened in that cell, but I know what I saw. And it could have all been avoided if the police officer just told her straight up, I’m giving you a warning, next time use your signal and went about his business. Instead people allege that if she’d have just put out the cigarette we wouldn’t even have a reason to know her name. Putting out that cigarette wouldn’t have saved her life, it was just the convenient reason to pull her out of the car for having an attitude for being pulled over.
Further, the woman I saw in that video wouldn’t end her own life. She had too much spirit. She knew she was going to court and couldn’t wait for her day in court. She couldn’t wait to call a lawyer.
That’s who I saw. What happened between that day and the day she was found hanging in her cell we may never know. But that woman didn’t kill herself. And I cannot be convinced otherwise.
That was a strong, Black woman. That was Sandra Bland.
And in that video, shows the moment where she started to die.
Fuck the police.