Maine Legal Group Logo
Main Office
Satellite Office
Consultations by Appointment Only

What Sandra Bland’s Death Says About the Police

It seems like every week now, there’s another person who dies after being roughed around by police. It’s to the point where it’s difficult to keep the names and places straight. Michael Brown was in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner was in New York, and Freddie Gray was in Baltimore, but where was Sandra Bland? And what was the name of the guy who got shot on video in South Carolina?

The lesson that we need to be learning from this is that law enforcement has changed, somehow, at some time in the recent past. The change has been to how they enforce the law, and the change has not been for the better.

At the core of the wrong tactical changes that have been made in many police departments across America is how officers are promoted up in the ranks. Officers now succeed or fail in the force based on the number of arrests they make. Fewer arrests mean that they are not doing their job. More arrests show that the officer knows how to ferret out crime.

It doesn’t take rocket science to show how this is a bad idea. Just watch the dashboard camera in the Sandra Bland case. Ms. Bland was driving in Prairie View, Texas when she was pulled over by officer Brian Encinia for failing to signal while changing lanes. Mr. Encinia had made a reasonable decision to give Ms. Bland a written warning for failing to signal. But written warnings are not arrests. They are not crimes that can make an officer look good for rooting out.

So Mr. Encinia went back to Ms. Bland’s car and created an altercation by telling her to put out her cigarette. Knowing her rights, Ms. Bland refused. There’s nothing illegal about smoking in your own car. Unfortunately, this put Mr. Encinia in a position to say that she wasn’t complying with an officer. He told her to get out of her car. Again, knowing her rights, she refused. Mr. Encinia tried pulling her out, and then threatened to taser her. When Ms. Bland got out, she was arrested.

Three days later, Ms. Bland died in jail. The initial autopsy deemed it a suicide, but it has since been determined to be defective. New results are still pending.

But we shouldn’t be talking about Ms. Bland’s death. She should never have been arrested. But she was, because written warnings aren’t good enough to move police officers up in their departments, and the police are human, with ambitions and often with families to support. They want promotions and pay raises as much as anyone else.

The problem is that, to get these promotions, and these pay raises, cops like Mr. Encinia often have to get an edge on their competition in the department. They can do this by creating arrests where they’re not necessary, by bullying innocent people around until they feel they can clap the cuffs on them.

If you’ve been arrested and charged with a crime, hire a defense attorney. Call the law office of William T. Bly at (207) 571-8146.


Contact our office to speak with
one of our team members who will set up a confidential consultation to discuss your case.


Great group of people. Managed to get me a favorable outcome from a very bad situation. I would highly recommend this firm if you have legal troubles. Top notch performance!!

Dave Allen

So thankful I chose this team to represent me. They’re the best, hands down. Nathan Hitchcock proved my innocence not once but TWICE, including a trial by jury. I have a family in law enforcement who told me “Bill Bly and his team are the best. If I would recommend anyone, it would be them.”

Brandon Albert





Ready to Get Started? Get In Touch With Us Today!

If you are facing criminal charges in Maine, the attorneys at The Maine Criminal Defense Group are here to help. Call our office to speak with one of our team members, who will discuss your case with you and set up a consultation with one of our attorneys.

Get to Know Our Group
Maine Legal Group

We are a boutique law firm, and we stand out by prioritizing our clients’ well-being. At The Maine Legal Group, our experienced team offers personalized attention in both criminal defense and divorce cases.

The Maine Criminal Defense Group

The Maine Criminal Defense Group adeptly handles all areas of criminal defense practice, including experienced and skilled legal representation for state and federal charges.

The Maine Divorce Group

The Maine Divorce Group empowers individuals skillfully navigating divorce with compassionate guidance, ensuring a brighter future through the challenges of the process.