Tag: Waller County

Sandra Bland Exhibit Opens in Houston Museum of African American Culture Through February 28

Sandra bland thegrio.com
Sandra Bland (Photo/Facebook)

via thegrio.com

On Saturday, the Houston Museum of African American Culture opened an exhibit dedicated to the life and death of Sandra Bland.

The 28-year old was pulled over for a minor traffic violation, arrested, and found dead in her Waller County, Texas jail cell three days after in July 2015. Although her death was ruled a suicide, activists and others criticized the jail’s handling of Bland.

On opening night, visitors were able to walk through the exhibit featuring smiling images from Bland’s life before sitting in a makeshift car to watch footage from the traffic stop that ultimately led to her death.

For her mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, sitting in that car was the hardest part of the exhibit. “It felt like when that officer was walking, he was walking towards you,” she told local station KTRK.

Reed-Veal added that she felt like her daughter was telling her story even after her death. “People seeing this exhibit should say to themselves hold on, I’m going to think a little differently about the way I do things—with my interactions with everyone but more so police officers,” she said.

Touching the lives of those who visit

The artists who worked on the exhibit clearly did their homework. Many of the pieces give a glimpse into the type of woman Bland was at the time of her death. “I’m discovering we were very similar. She was a woman who took over 50 selfies, she had very healthy self-esteem, was in a sorority, educated, young had a future ahead of her,” said Lee Carrier, the designer behind the central mural in the exhibit.

Visitors have also been blown away by the emotion of the exhibit.

“The struggles that African American’s face, whether light, brown, or black as it’s called, our realities are sometimes different than our counterparts,” visitor Erinn Miller told the station. “It doesn’t matter if you’re educated or not educated, from the city or the country. Sandra Bland was a classic case.”

Visitors will be able to see the exhibit from now until Feb. 28.

Source: https://thegrio.com/2018/02/05/sandra-bland-exhibit-opens-houston-area-museum/

Sandra Bland’s Family Settles Wrongful Death Suit in Texas For $1.9 Million

Newsworthy
(Source: Keith Getter / Getty)

article via theurbandaily.com

The family of Sandra Bland has settled a wrongful death suit with officials in Waller County, Texas, for $1.9 million, reports CNN.

The amount includes payment for Bland’s death as well as several changes to jail procedures, notes the report.  The case became a rallying call in the push for criminal justice reform after the 28-year-old Illinois woman was found dead in a jail cell, three days after she was arrested for failing to use her turn signal in July 2015. Many of the activists argued that she should not have been arrested on a minor traffic infraction or jailed in the first place.

The family’s lawyer, Cannon Lambert, said the final details of the agreement were hammered out on Wednesday night, writes CNN:

Some of the jail procedure changes included in the settlement are:

— Using automated electronic sensors to ensure timely cell checks

— Providing an on-duty staff nurse or emergency medical technician for all shifts

— Providing continuing education for jailer screening

In addition, “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,” the attorney said.

Brian Encinia, the Texas state trooper who arrested her, was “fired after he was indicted on a perjury charge,” notes CNN. And a Waller County jail worker admitted to falsifying log entries showing that he checked on Bland an hour before her death.

Texas Trooper Who Arrested Sandra Bland Indicted for Perjury by Grand Jury

Sandra Bland
About two dozen people demonstrate outside the Waller County Courthouse in Hempstead, Texas, where a grand jury reviewed the case of Sandra Bland.  (Michael Graczyk / Associated Press)

The Texas Department of Public Safety announced it would move to fire Trooper Brian T. Encinia.

The indictment marked the conclusion of the grand jury’s investigation of the case.

If convicted of the misdemeanor perjury charge, Encinia faces up to a year in jail, according to Warren Diepraam, a spokesman for the Waller County district attorney’s office. The grand jury declined to indict on a charge of aggravated perjury, Diepraam said.

Bland, 28, who was black, was found hanging by a plastic bag in her jail cell three days after she was arrested July 10 during a routine traffic stop about 55 miles west of Houston.

Encinia pulled over Bland for making an improper lane change. The confrontation that ensued, which led to Bland’s arrest on suspicion of assaulting Encinia, was captured on a dashboard camera video that went viral.

The charge against Encinia stemmed from a one-page probable cause affidavit that Encinia filed with jail officials justifying Bland’s arrest, in which he wrote that the reason he removed her from her car was to conduct a safer traffic investigation, said special prosecutor Shawn McDonald.

“The grand jury found that statement to be false,” McDonald said.

After she was arrested, Bland was taken to the Waller County Jail in nearby Hempstead, where she was unable to make $500 bail. Officials said Bland hanged herself with a plastic bag.

Bland’s family and Black Lives Matter supporters questioned why she had been arrested at all, with some asking whether she had taken her own life. At the time Bland was stopped, she had just accepted a job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University.

Continue reading “Texas Trooper Who Arrested Sandra Bland Indicted for Perjury by Grand Jury”

Sandra Bland’s Family Files Federal Lawsuit over Jail Cell Death

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Attorney Cannon Lambert Sr., left, and Geneva Reed-Veal, Sandra Bland’s mother, announce in Houston on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, the family’s lawsuit against those believed to be responsible for Bland’s July 13, 2015, death. (Photo: KHOU-TV, Houston)

HOUSTON — The family of Sandra Bland, the Illinois woman found dead in a Texas jail cell last month, filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Houston seeking to hold people involved in her death accountable.  “We are looking for Waller County and the individuals involved to take accountability,” said attorney Cannon Lambert Sr., who is representing the family.

The lawsuit is filed against Trooper Brian Encinia, the sheriff of Waller County, Texas, two of the jailers and the Texas Department of Public Safety, Lambert said.

Encinia arrested Bland on July 10 in Waller County, Texas. Three days later, on July 13, she was found dead in a jail cell in Hempstead, Texas. Officials say she used a plastic bag to hang herself.

Many of Bland’s family, friends and others on social media worldwide have questioned that explanation. They say she was about to start a new job at Prairie View A&M University, her alma mater.

The 28-year-old was pulled over for failing to signal while changing lanes. She was arrested for allegedly kicking Encinia during a traffic stop near Prairie View A&M. Dashcam video does not make clear whether or not that happened, but does show the encounter quickly escalating after Encinia tells Bland to put out her cigarette.

The trooper was put on desk duty for violating procedures during the stop.  “Mr. Encinia is still employed and it doesn’t make sense that the taxpayers are paying for the type of service that he employed on July 10,” Lambert said.

“This family needs an answer to the principle question of what happened to Sandra Bland. It’s why we filed suit,” he said.

The family would like the Department of Justice to investigate Bland’s death as they said the case requires a fresh set of eyes.  Last week, Waller County officials released hours of video of Bland inside the jail to try to disprove claims of foul play.

On July 22, police released a 52-minute long dash camera video from Encinia’s car. The clip showed Encinia yelling for Bland to get out of her car and demanding that she put her phone away.  “Step out, or I will remove you,” he said repeatedly, opening the driver’s door as she protested.

The release of the video raised questions on whether the video had been edited. The Texas Department of Public Safety disputed those claims, saying the “glitches” in the video came during the uploading process. The next day, the department released the video without the “glitches.”

“I watched the video once. I will not watch it again,” said Geneva Reed-Veal, Bland’s mother. She said watching the video she felt “anger, disgust, disappointment and sadness. I have chosen to channel those feelings in another way. … I am angry. Justice is going to be served if the justice system does what it’s supposed to do.”

Continue reading “Sandra Bland’s Family Files Federal Lawsuit over Jail Cell Death”

TX Prosecutor Appoints Committee Outside His Jurisdiction to Investigate Death Of Sandra Bland

Sandra Bland (photo via fusion.net)
Sandra Bland (photo via fusion.net)

In the wake of funeral services for Sandra Bland this past weekend, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis has appointed a committee of attorneys from outside his jurisdiction to review findings in the mysterious death of Bland. This committee will review evidence as it continues to be collected, all in an effort to help Mathis sort out the many moving parts of the case.

Mathis made the announcement on Monday, just as the fervor around finding out how exactly the 28-year-old Illinois woman died just three days after a traffic stop in Texas on July 10. Mathis’ office released a toxicology report last Monday, revealing that Bland had marijuana in her system. According to the Chicago Tribune, a pair of experts that reviewed the report for the Associated Press suggested that Bland may have used the drug while in custody.

Mathis said he and the collective of lawyers intend to review “credible evidence and not rumors” according to a report from CBS News. Mathis has much to contend with in that arena, as Bland’s family and supporters are questioning findings that her death was indeed a self-inflicted hanging by way of a plastic trash bag in her Waller County jail cell.

Continue reading “TX Prosecutor Appoints Committee Outside His Jurisdiction to Investigate Death Of Sandra Bland”