When a Texas state trooper pulled over Sandra Bland for failing to signal a lane change, it seemed like a fairly routine moment, one that is repeated thousands of times across the country without incident.
Until she complained about the traffic ticket and he told her to put out her cigarette. At that moment, Bland’s refusal prompted the officer to ask her to step out of the car, alarming her and the situation quickly escalated out of control, according to the newly-released dash-cam video. Within a few minutes, the trooper had forced her out of the car, was violently holding her down on the ground and handcuffing her. After being arrested and thrown into jail, Bland was soon found dead in her cell, generating national headlines and prompting an investigation by the FBI and Texas State Police.
But it all comes down to that moment in the video, one which reflects a racial disparity on expectations about police behavior and what type of conduct deserves a tough response from the police.
Blacks are less likely than whites to say they approve of police use of force in situations where a suspect is attempting to escape custody, attacking the officer with his fists and using obscene words, according to a survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Yet blacks are actually more likely to say they approve of police use of force when someone is being questioned as a suspect in a murder case.