Sandra Bland's Family Settles Civil Suit For $1.9 Million
The family of an Illinois woman who was found dead in a Texas jail cell has settled a civil suit against the authorities. Her mother told the Chicago Sun-Times, "It’s awesome. It’s a victory for mothers across the country."
Bland, 28, had just moved to Texas from Napeville when she was pulled over for failing to signal a lane change in Prairie View on July 10, 2015. The interaction between Bland and the officer escalated, Officer Brian Encinia being more aggressive when Bland questioned his requests since she was not under arrest. The exchange was caught on- and off-camera—at one point, Bland is heard screaming that her head was knocked to the ground and that Encinia is hurting her—and continued to raise questions about racial profiling by law enforcement. (A crime procedure expert found Encinia's actions irresponsible and even Texas authorities admitted he failed to "maintain professionalism.")
Bland, who was arrested for assaulting a public servant, was taken to the Waller County Jail, where she was held for three days until her body was found in her cell on July 13, 2015. Authorities claimed she killed herself, while her family has said that was unlikely. It turned out that the jail's staff didn't do their regular checks of inmates, even though Bland's intake questionnaire noted she had mentioned previous suicidal incidents.
An attorney for the Bland family, Cannon Lambert, said, "The Waller County judge will be seeking passage of state legislation for more funding for local jails regarding intake and booking, screening and other jail support." According to CNN, the changes in jail procedures include "using automated electronic sensors to ensure timely cell checks; providing an on-duty staff nurse or emergency medical technician for all shifts; and providing continuing education for jailer screening."
While Encinia was not charged in Bland's death, the Texas Department of Public Safety fired him after he was charged with perjury.