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Assessing the Legality of Sandra Bland’s Arrest

Tensions Rise

Ms. Bland is pulled over and accused of failing to use a turn signal. Brian T. Encinia, a state trooper, approaches her car, takes her information and returns to his vehicle to write a ticket. When Trooper Encinia returns, he asks if she is O.K. and says that Ms. Bland seems irritated.

Failure to use a turn signal is technically an arrestable offense in Texas, though it rarely happens, according to Andrea Roth, an expert in criminal procedure who works as an assistant law professor at the University of California, Berkeley.Rebecca Robertson, the legal and policy director for A.C.L.U. in Texas, said, “The initial stop should not have resulted in an arrest.” Trooper Encinia could have just handed Ms. Bland a ticket through the window and let her drive away, she said.

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