In July 2015, Sandra Bland was pulled over by DPS trooper Brian Encinia for not using a traffic signal. Dialogue between the two quickly escalated into this and just three days later authorities say bland killed herself inside the Waller County jail.
“This was a horrible tragedy for the Sandra Bland family, one of the goals here is to prevent other tragedies for families here in Texas,” said Michelle Dietch, professor at University of Texas.
In response, representative Garnet Coleman filed HB 2702, the Sandra Bland Act. The bill would require additional de-escalation training for DPS and other law enforcement, punish those who repeatedly racially profile, and calls for more police reform
"De-escalation means what we'll do is start treating people in a way where they're not forced into a circumstance, but where they can use their rights in order to provide the necessary response to police but not be put into a situation where they are by coercion or by law forced into incriminating themselves," said Coleman, (D) Houston.
“It creates rules everyone can understand in a traffic stop and that's what protects police,” said Coleman.
But the bill is getting some pushback from a local law enforcement agency, who says it handicaps justice.
“Our concern is that much of it is based on rhetoric. It would prohibit any search done with consent of the individual that was stopped, it would prohibit any arrest on Class C traffic offenses,” said Kevin Lawrence, executive director of Texas Municipal Police Association.
The T.M.P.A. agrees, those who are sick should have access to mental health services, but Lawrence says that should happen long before a police encounter. He also agrees on longer training for officers.
“I think about Sophia King that happened here in Austin, I think about David Joseph, the naked teen here in Austin, I think about last week, the 30-year old Morgan Rankins that had a history of mental health,” said Chas Moore, founder and president at Austin Justice Coalition.
“This bill in total changes the definition of racial profiling. It says you can't do this, because if you do, that's racial profiling,” said Coleman.