Prosecutors have dropped the single charge against the Texas state trooper involved in the arrest of driver Sandra Bland, whose jail cell death in July 2015 became a flash point in the Black Lives Matter movement and led to a state law in her name.
With Wednesday's dismissal of the misdemeanor perjury case against Brian Encinia, the ex-trooper agreed to surrender his peace officer license and not work in law enforcement, said special prosecutors Pheobe Smith and Chad Dick. The case must also permanently remain on his record.
"We understand that this is far from a perfect solution, and that many people will feel that this is an inadequate punishment, while others feel that charges should have never been filed," the prosecutors said in a statement. "This is a solution that will guarantee that Mr. Encinia will never be a licensed law enforcement officer again."
Encinia was the only official to be charged criminally in the Bland case. Prosecutors said he lied in a sworn affidavit when he wrote that Bland, 28, had been "combative and uncooperative" after he stopped her on the outskirts of Houston and that he removed her from her car to conduct a safer traffic investigation.
Dashcam video later released showed that Encinia drew his stun gun and told Bland, "I will light you up!" after she initially refused to get out of her car.
Bland was arrested for assault. After three days in the Waller County Jail, she was found hanged with a plastic garbage bag around her neck. Authorities ruled her death a suicide.
The Texas Department of Public Safety fired Encinia after he was indicted by a grand jury in January 2016 — about six months after the incident — for acting inappropriately during the stop.
Chip Lewis, one of Encinia's lawyers, praisedthe decision to drop the perjury charge against him.
"This is the product of cooler heads, time, and my presentation of the objective evidence to reach the right decision," he told the American-Statesman.
The family of Bland previously criticized the lone perjury charge, which carried a maximum of one year in jail and a $4,000 fine, as "not justice."
The resolution of the case comes almost two weeks after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the Sandra Bland Act, which takes effect in September and includes requiring county jails to send people with signs of mental health and substance abuse issues into treatment.