As most everyone knows by now, 28-year-old Sandra Bland was found dead in a jail cell earlier this month, three days after being arrested following a traffic stop for not properly signaling while changing lanes. The Texas police department that arrested and detained her claimed it was a suicide, but many have questioned that as Ms. Bland had recently obtained a new job at the university she graduated from and seemingly had a lot to look forward to in life. After the release of the dashcam footage of her arrest, outrage sparked across the country as the officer obviously escalated the situation beyond any reason, especially when he threatened to Bland by saying, “I’ll light you up!”
In a panel discussion Tuesday night on CNN Tonight, CNN contributor and former New York police detective Harry Houck came to the defense of the arresting officer and blamed the entire melee on Bland’s “arrogance” and lack of listening to the officer’s instructions. Houck also proved that he actually hadn’t watched the entire video as he insisted that Bland refused to give her ID to the officer after the stop would not cooperate at all. He also claims the officer had to aggressively deal with Bland because “she would have kept coming at him.”
Host Don Lemon began the panel discussion with Houck, asking him his thoughts on the video and if the police officer acted appropriately. Houck, being the former police officer and all-around cop apologist he is, claimed that the officer pretty much did everything right. He pointed out that an officer has the right to ask someone to step out of their car during any traffic stop. He then added, “The whole thing here is that she was very arrogant from the beginning, very dismissive of the officer, alright?”
Well, considering the other two panelists were Marc Lamont Hill and Sunny Hostin, you can guess where the conversation went from there. Both of them took offense to Houck’s characterization of Bland being too uppity for her own good. Hill pointed out that, per the video, Bland was mostly just irritated about being pulled over and just wanted her ticket. It was obvious that the officer escalated the situation by telling her to put out her cigarette and exit the vehicle, all over a traffic offense that was going to result in a warning. Hostin also pointed out that there is no statute anywhere saying a person cannot smoke in his or her car.
Of course, Houck wasn’t buying it. He then made up, out of whole cloth, a portion of the video in which Bland refused to give the officer her ID. Hill said that wasn’t in the tape at all, but Houck insisted it was. Eventually, Lemon had to step in and inform Houck that he was mistaken and there was no part of the video that shows Bland refusing to provide her ID to Officer Brian Encinia. After that, Houck deflected by saying that he’d read articles — but couldn’t identify where he read them — telling people they don’t have to provide identification to police officers if they are pulled over.
Most of the rest of the segment consisted of Houck and Hill arguing back and forth. Houck insisted that Encinia did nothing to bait Bland into a reaction or escalate the situation. When Hill said that what Houck called arrogance was actually dignity being shown by a black woman who objected to being treated in such a manner, Houck claimed that there was nothing racial with this incident. Hill sarcastically retorted, “This happens to white women all the time.”
Below is video of the segment, courtesy of Raw Story: