Sandra Bland’s Family Awarded $1.9 Million Settlement

“How did switching lanes with no signal turn into all of this?”

(Question left on a voicemail by Sandra Bland during a call from the jail house.)

On July 10, 2015, Texas Department of Public Safety trooper Brian Encinia stopped Sandra Bland for failure to signal a lane change.  Sandra was 28-years old.  She was in Texas to start a job on August 3, 2015 as a summer program associate with Prairie View A&M University in Waller County, Texas.

sandra-bland-1

Sandra Bland

Upon returning to Sandra’s car with citations for her to sign, Encinia asked Sandra to put out her cigarette.  When Sandra asked Encinia why she would need to put out her cigarette in her own car, Encinia ordered Sandra out of her car, and taking out his stun gun, threatened to “light” her up if she did not comply.  Encinia accused Sandra of assaulting him and she was taken to jail.

On July 13, 2015, Sandra was found dead in her jail cell.  She was found hung with a plastic trash bag around her neck, from a partition that was shorter or about the same height as Sandra, who was 6 feet tall.

In December 2015, a grand jury declined to indict anyone in connection with Sandra’s death.  In January 2016, a grand jury indicted Brian Encinia (the arresting officer) for perjury.  The grand jury did not believe Encinia’s statement that he wanted Sandra removed from her car so he could conduct a safer traffic investigation. The Texas Department of Public Safety terminated Encinia for violating department standards.

Encinia is free on a $2,500 bond.  If convicted, he faces up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

A Tangled Web is Weaved

In August 2015, Sandra’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit.  They demanded investigative records in the case.  A federal judge in Houston set January 23, 2017 for the case to go to trial.

Government attorneys sought to delay the lawsuit until Encinia’s criminal case plays out. The attorneys argued that Sandra killed herself because she was distraught that friends and family didn’t bail her out.

In January 2016, a grand jury indicted Prairie View Officer Michael Kelley for using his stun gun on a City Council member.  The charge is described as “official oppression” which is a misdemeanor.  Police said the incident happened in October 2015 when they questioned four men outside Prairie View City Council Member Jonathan Miller’s apartment about suspicious activity in the neighborhood.  Miller intervened and video from on one of Miller’s friends shows Kelly using a taser on Miller when Miller didn’t follow his commands. City Council Member Jonathan Miller was charged with resisting arrest and interference with public duties.

In case anyone is interested or thinks that it matters, Miller, the Council member is Black.  Kelley is White.

In July 2016, Officer Michael Kelley said that his indictment was in retaliation for his wanting to tell the grand jury that Encinia was on the phone with a supervisor after arresting Sandra because he didn’t know what to charge Sandra with to justify her arrest.

Officer Kelley stated that the county’s top prosecutors threatened to end his career if he came forward with what he says is evidence of wrongdoing.  Kelley said he was never contacted by special prosecutors handling the case, and the Waller County district attorney’s top assistant said there would be repercussions if he spoke to a Bland family attorney. Prosecutors denied Kelley’s allegations.

The Chicago Tribune reports that one jailer gave a deposition admitting that he falsified a jail log.

More than Money — Change

(Agreeing with thine adversary)

sandra-bland-funeral

Sandra Bland’s funeral

On September 19, 2016, Waller County, several county employees and Brian Encinia, reached a settlement in the wrongful death case.   Bland family attorney Cannon Lambert said all parties have agreed to terms including a $1.9 million payout to the family  — $1.8 million from Waller County and $100,000 from the Department of Public Safety, and changes in jailing and law enforcement practices that could have statewide implications.

Since her death, Bland’s family, lawmakers, policy experts and activists have pushed for procedural changes in jails, and new laws that might lessen the chances of another death like hers.  They say that the next battles will largely be in political and legislative arenas.

Conditions of the settlement include the requirement for sensors to be used at the jail to ensure that detainee checks are done accurately and cannot be falsified.  The jail agreed to ensure that there is a duty nurse or emergency medical technician on all shifts.

For the 2017 legislative session, Texas State Representative Garnet Coleman has introduced legislation titled The Sandra Bland Act.  The Bill will address protocols for dealing with mental health issues in the criminal justice system, and look for ways to divert people to treatment over incarceration and emphasize police de-escalation.   Coleman stated “It’s real important that we don’t let someone’s death go in vain.

By not arguing whether or not Sandra committed suicide, her family is pursuing changes to jail rules and procedures that will help all inmates.

Video of Sandra’s arrest;

 

Sandra’s mom and family attorney speaks about the settlement;

News Sources:

Chicago Tribune

Houston CBS Local

Texas Tribune

New York Times

CNN

 

Posted on 09/19/2016, in Cases, civil rights, Videos and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. Mr. Militant,
    Thanks for the reblog, dear friend.

    Like

  2. I admire tremendously how the family are using this horrible tragedy for the good. There isn’t enough money to make up for the senseless death of Sandra Bland. Black Lives Matter, Gronda

    Liked by 1 person

  3. yahtzeebutterfly

    I deeply admire and respect Sandra’s mother.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reading all of this for the first time it doesn’t add up does it.. and my heart goes out to Sandra’s mother and all of the family..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Sue! I’m sure that Sandra’s mom and family appreciate our hearts going out to them. I saw Sandra’s mom speak at the DNC. She is a woman of faith and her spiritual wisdom is heard in her words, and now seen in her actions with the conditions of the settlement. I get the feeling that she is only beginning to be a positive person for positive change.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I am SO glad!!! I just read this article – do you know that there have been more than 800 deaths in jails since July 13, 2015 (when Sandra Bland died)?

    This is SO wrong and TOTALLY unacceptable.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/david-clarke-jail-death-terrill-thomas_us_57e03580e4b04a1497b5f12e?section=politics

    Liked by 1 person

  6. another cold blooded murder of a black man in tulsa…….car broke down, police arrive with guns drawn and execute him on the spot and his hands were UP!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Bill! I’m gathering info from news reports and videos now. There are some conflicting “facts” and I want to report all of them. What really concerns me is that 3 officers lined up across so that the dashcam would not capture Terence. After Terence was shot, they walked backwards to their cruisers, apparently not wanting their faces captured on the video to be identified. What good is it having dashcam if officers are going to deliberately circumvent its purpose? Hopefully I’ll have the post up by Thursday.

      Like

  7. chuquestaquenumber1

    Hopefully this settlement as well as any criminal Court victories,will give some relief to the Bland family.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Case was settled because it was going to summary judgment and Sandra Bland family was going to lose

    Like

    • David Piercy,
      Why is that you have yet to complete one semester in a non ABA accredited law school, but want to argue about summary judgment? Does it ever occur to you to use your resources of professors and lawyers to ask questions? You really should. They are there to help you. And, since you’re using the computers at San Joaquin School of Law to send your comment, you could have probably asked one of your teachers to explain the motion for summary judgment.

      Here’s the logical question? Who offers to settle cases, plaintiffs or defendants? Answer: although plaintiffs can make a written demand for settlement, it’s defendants who extend the offer.

      The summary judgment that you linked to (I removed the link from your comment) was filed by 3 defendants, all staff at the jail, and all of whom contended that they have qualified immunity and that they had no contact with Sandra Bland. That left other defendants who did settle, namely, Waller County and the Texas Department of Public Safety. Chances are that the settlement withdrew all claims and damages against all defendants.

      So, put your theory in the opposite form; i.e., Waller County and the Texas Department of Public Safety settled with Sandra’s family. It is not the other way around as you posture it.

      Additionally, you cannot form a basis for belief of which party is going to prevail on summary judgment without reading the answer to the motion for summary judgment. Keep that in mind. There are always two sides to a story. You’re going to need to remember that because if you do pass the Bar and are licensed to practice law, and ever file a motion for summary judgment in a case, the other party gets to file an answer. Also, there is no default on summary judgments because the review is de novo. Thus, even if the other party does not file an answer, it doesn’t mean that the party who filed wins by default.

      You of all people should have learned by experience that even when you file an appeal brief and the other party does not participate in the appeal, that you can still fail to prevail.

      Now, I would appreciate that you cease and desist from submitting comments to my blogs. You have a history of harassing me, filing fraudulent DMCA notices in effort to have Word Press suspend this blog, and calling me racial slurs. So, why did I approve your comment? To make a record of evidence so the law school will know how you are using their computers — and it’s not for your homework or studies. I’m pretty sure that when the semester comes for you to debate cases, that the school will want you to do that in class with your classmates, under the observation and grading of your teacher and not on blogs.

      Bye David.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ooo wee! That was good! 🙂 He’s too stupid to even know how stupid he is! That was precious!

        Like

        • Hey Mindyme,
          He has taken to submitting comments that want to argue law. Most are off topic. Also, he likes sending links to pleadings and misrepresenting those pleadings as “facts” as if the court has ruled on them. He does the same with discovery documents. In both cases, he only presents one-side and not filed responses or answers. So, he’s making an excellent online record for the California Bar to consider if that time arrives for him.

          Like

  9. She belongs to the ages now, another icon in the fight for equal justice and accountability when police officers brutalize and murder citizens. She never should have died in that jail. Encina is a liar and should be in prison for his part in her even being in that jail.

    Like

    • Mindyme,
      Re:

      “She never should have died in that jail.”

      You hit the proverbial nail on the head. How can anyone be arrested for resisting arrest when they committed no crime to initiate an arrest? That is what many people miss in their arguments that Sandra should have “cooperated” in putting out her cigarette. Actually, we don’t know if she did or didn’t. What we do know from the dashcam video is that she asked why she needed to put it out when she was smoking in her own car? For that question, Encinia felt his Cheerios and decided to arrest her.

      This happens too often. It happened just recently in the Noel Carter case in Florida. He was found not guilty for domestic violence, but guilty for resisting arrest — arrest for a crime that a jury decided he did not commit.

      Like

  1. Pingback: Terence Crutcher Shooting, Charlotte Police shoots disabled man, and Sandra Bland settlement case update | Canhead

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