No Indictments for Jail Staff in Sandra Bland Case
Sandra Bland was found hanged in her cell in July after being arrested at a routine traffic stop
A grand jury on Monday declined to indict any jail employees in the death of Sandra Bland, who was found hanged in her prison cell on July 13, three days after being arrested during a contentious traffic stop with a Texas trooper. But the trooper could still face charges, a prosecutor said.
Authorities in Texas deemed Bland’s death in the Waller County jail to be a suicide, although her family has questioned that account. On Monday, the family expressed frustration at the grand jury’s findings.
A family lawyer and relatives of Bland’s said at a news conference that they had “no confidence” in the grand jury, which they called a “tool of the prosecution,” NBC News reports.
“I simply can’t have faith in a system that’s not inclusive of my family,” said Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal.
Bland, 28, was stopped July 10 in Prairie View, Texas, for failing to signal a lane change. She was arrested and jailed for assault after a confrontation with state trooper Brian Encinia that escalated quickly and was captured on dash-cam video.
The confrontation between Bland, who was black, and Encinia, who is white, led to further outcry – already fueled by several high-profile cases in the past year – about how white police officers treat minorities.
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Darrell Jordan, the special prosecutor in the Bland case, said Monday that the grand jury was focused only on Bland’s death and the conduct of the jail staff in this decision not to indict, reports The New York Times.
Jordan said “the case is still open” and that grand jurors would reconvene next month to discuss other aspects of it. The grand jury is expected to focus next on whether to indict Encinia on any charges, the Associated Press said.
The Bland family has also filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against state and local authorities in Texas. That case is due to go to a jury trial in January 2017.