Sandra Bland's family sues state trooper, wants answers

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Sandra Bland's Family Filing Federal Lawsuit

HOUSTON (AP) -- The family of a black woman found dead in a Texas jail three days after a confrontation with a white state trooper filed a wrongful-death lawsuit Tuesday against the officer and other officials, saying it was a last resort after being unable to get enough information about the case.

Bland, a 28-year-old Chicago-area woman, was found dead in her Waller County jail cell in Hempstead on July 13. Bland's family and others also have criticized Trooper Brian Encinia, who stopped Bland for failing to signal a lane change. Video of the stop shows that the confrontation quickly escalated after Encinia asked Bland to put out her cigarette.

"This family's motivation is that they don't want to see this sort of thing happen again to another family," family attorney Cannon Lambert said during a news conference in Houston.

Bland's mother Geneva Reed-Veal, holding a Bible during the news conference, added: "The bottom line is she never should have been inside the jail cell. Period."


See images of Bland and the reaction to her death:
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Sandra Bland's family sues state trooper, wants answers
The Waller County jail cell where Sandra Bland was found dead is seen Wednesday, July 22, 2015, in Hempstead, Texas. Bland was arrested and taken to the jail about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of Houston on July 10 and found dead July 13. Officials say Bland hanged herself with a plastic garbage bag in her jail cell, a contention her family and supporters dispute. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
In this July 10, 2015, frame from dashcam video provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety, trooper Brian Encinia arrests Sandra Bland after she became combative during a routine traffic stop in Waller County, Texas. Bland was taken to the Waller County Jail that day and was found dead in her cell on July 13. (Texas Department of Public Safety via AP)
In this July 13, 2015, frame taken from video provided by the Waller County Sheriff's Department from a motion-operated camera, emergency personnel carry a gurney near Sandra Bland's jail cell, at the Waller County jail in Hempstead, Texas. The video, released Monday, July 20, shows there was no activity for about 90 minutes in the hallway leading to the cell where authorities say Bland was found hanged, three days after her arrest. (Waller County Sheriff's Department via AP)
This undated handout photo provided by the Waller County Sheriff’s Office shows Sandra Bland. The Texas Rangers are investigating the circumstances surrounding Bland's death Monday, July 13, 2015 in a Waller County jail cell in Hempstead, Texas. The Harris County medical examiner has classified her death as suicide by hanging. She had been arrested Friday in Waller County on a charge of assaulting a public servant. (Waller County Sheriff’s Office, via AP)
This image from the Sandra Bland autopsy report provided by the Waller County District Attorney's Office shows wounds to Bland's neck and head area. The complete autopsy on Bland has been released, Friday, July 24, 2015, a day after authorities said there were no signs on her body to suggest that her manner of death in jail was anything but suicide. (Waller County District Attorney's Office, via AP)
The Waller County jail cell where Sandra Bland was found dead is seen Wednesday, July 22, 2015, in Hempstead, Texas. Bland was arrested and taken to the jail about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of Houston on July 10 and found dead July 13. Officials say Bland hanged herself with a plastic garbage bag in her jail cell, a contention her family and supporters dispute. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
A videographer shoots outside the Waller County Jail Wednesday, July 22, 2015, in Hempstead, Texas, where Sandra Bland died in a cell. Bland was arrested and taken to a jail about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of Houston on July 10 and found dead July 13. Officials say Bland hanged herself with a plastic garbage bag in her jail cell, a contention her family and supporters dispute. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
The Waller County jail cell where Sandra Bland was found dead is seen Wednesday, July 22, 2015, in Hempstead, Texas. Bland was arrested and taken to the jail about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of Houston on July 10 and found dead July 13. Officials say Bland hanged herself with a plastic garbage bag in her jail cell, a contention her family and supporters dispute. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
(Photo via Facebook)
(Photo via Facebook)
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Dewayne Charleston speaks at a Waller County Commissioners Court meeting about the jail cell death of Sandra Bland in Hempstead, Texas, on Wednesday, July 22, 2015. Bland was arrested and taken to a jail about 60 miles northwest of Houston on July 10 and found dead July 13. Officials say Bland hanged herself with a plastic garbage bag in her jail cell, a contention her family and supporters dispute. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
Geneva Read-Veal, center, hugs family members at a memorial service for her daughter Sandra Bland at Prairie View A&M University, Tuesday, July 21, 2015, in Prairie View, Texas. A newly released dashcam video documents how a routine traffic stop escalated into a shouting confrontation between a Texas state trooper and Bland, which led to her arrest. Bland was found hanging in her jail cell three days after the incident. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
Texas Sen. Royce West, center, speaks next to Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, left, and Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis during a news conference, Tuesday, July 21, 2015, in Prairie View, Texas, following a meeting regarding the investigation into the death of Sandra Bland. A newly released dashcam video documents how a routine traffic stop escalated into a shouting confrontation between a Texas state trooper and Bland, which led to her arrest. Bland was found hanging in her jail cell three days after the incident. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
Jeanette Williams places a bouquet of roses at a memorial for Sandra Bland near Prairie View A&M University, Tuesday, July 21, 2015, in Prairie View, Texas. A newly released dashcam video documents how a routine traffic stop escalated into a shouting confrontation between a Texas state trooper and Bland, which led to her arrest. Bland was found hanging in her jail cell three days after the incident. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
A memorial sits outside the Waller County Jail Wednesday, July 22, 2015, in Hempstead, Texas, where Sandra Bland died in a cell. Bland was arrested and taken to a jail about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of Houston on July 10 and found dead July 13. Officials say Bland hanged herself with a plastic garbage bag in her jail cell, a contention her family and supporters dispute. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
Angel Duncan cries while speaking during a vigil for Sandra Bland at Prairie View A&M University, Sunday, July 19, 2015, in Prairie View, Texas. Authorities said Bland hanged herself with a plastic bag three days after being pulled over by police for a traffic violation and then arrested for allegedly kicking an officer during the stop. Bland's family is ordering an independent autopsy, lawyers said. (Jon Shapley/Houston Chronicle via AP)
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, center, speaks next to Texas Sen. Royce West, right, during a news conference, Tuesday, July 21, 2015, in Prairie View, Texas, following a meeting regarding the investigation into the death of Sandra Bland. A newly released dashcam video documents how a routine traffic stop escalated into a shouting confrontation between a Texas state trooper and Bland, which led to her arrest. Bland was found hanging in her jail cell three days after the incident. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
Flowers and other items adorn a memorial for Sandra Bland near Prairie View A&M University, Tuesday, July 21, 2015, in Prairie View, Texas. A newly released dashcam video documents how a routine traffic stop escalated into a shouting confrontation between a Texas state trooper and Bland, which led to her arrest. Bland was found hanging in her jail cell three days after the incident. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
Anthony Collier, of Houston, marches with others from the Waller County Jail to the Waller County Courthouse in Hempstead, Texas, Friday July 17, 2015, to protest the death of Sandra Bland, who was found dead in the jail. Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said there were no cameras in Bland’s jail cell to show if the Illinois woman hanged herself in the lockup as a medical examiner has ruled. Her relatives and supporters dispute the finding.  (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)  AUSTIN CHRONICLE OUT, COMMUNITY IMPACT OUT, INTERNET AND TV MUST CREDIT PHOTOGRAPHER AND STATESMAN.COM, MAGS OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
Protesters Kofi Taharka with William Mitchell, march with others from Waller County Jail to the Waller County Courthouse in Hempstead, Texas, Friday July 17, 2015, to protest the death of Sandra Bland, who was found dead in the jail. Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said there were no cameras in Bland’s jail cell to show if the Illinois woman hanged herself in the lockup as a medical examiner has ruled. Her relatives and supporters dispute the finding. (Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Protesters join hands outside the Waller County Jail in Hempstead, Texas, Friday July 17, 2015, to protest the death of Sandra Bland, who was found dead in the jail. Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said there were no cameras in Bland’s jail cell to show if the Illinois woman hanged herself in the lockup as a medical examiner has ruled. Her relatives and supporters dispute the finding. (Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Protester Vanessa Myers wears tape over her mouth during a rally outside the Waller County Courthouse after a march from the Waller County Jail in Hempstead, Texas, Friday July 17, 2015, to protest the death of Sandra Bland, who was found dead in the jail. Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said there were no cameras in Bland’s jail cell to show if the Illinois woman hanged herself in the lockup as a medical examiner has ruled. Her relatives and supporters dispute the finding. (Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
William Mitchell, 5, of Houston, holds a sign at a rally at the Waller County Jail in Hempstead, Texas, Friday, July 17, 2015, to protest the death of Sandra Bland, who was found dead in the jail. Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said there were no cameras in Bland’s jail cell to show if the Illinois woman hanged herself in the lockup as a medical examiner has ruled. Her relatives and supporters dispute the finding.  (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)  AUSTIN CHRONICLE OUT, COMMUNITY IMPACT OUT, INTERNET AND TV MUST CREDIT PHOTOGRAPHER AND STATESMAN.COM, MAGS OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
Protesters march from Waller County Jail to the Waller County Courthouse, in Hempstead, Texas, Friday July 17, 2015, to protest the death of Sandra Bland, who was found dead in the jail. Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said there were no cameras in Bland’s jail cell to show if the Illinois woman hanged herself in the lockup as a medical examiner has ruled. Her relatives and supporters dispute the finding. (Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Carie Cauley, left, Rev. Hannah Bonner and Rhys Caraway protest, after the death of Sandra Bland, as they sit in front of the Waller County Sheriff's Office and county jail on Monday, July 20, 2015, in Hempstead, Texas. Authorities said Bland hanged herself in the jail three days after being pulled over by police for a traffic violation and then arrested for allegedly kicking an officer during the stop. Bland's family is ordering an independent autopsy, lawyers said. (Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Lanitra Dean hugs Carlesha Harrison, a friend of Sandra Bland, during a vigil for Bland at Prairie View A&M University, Sunday, July 19, 2015, in Prairie View, Texas. Authorities said Bland hanged herself with a plastic bag three days after being pulled over by police for a traffic violation and then arrested for allegedly kicking an officer during the stop. Bland's family is ordering an independent autopsy, lawyers said. (Jon Shapley/Houston Chronicle via AP)
Shavon Bland, back left, Sharon Cooper, back center, and Sierra Cole, right, Sandra Bland's oldest sister Shante Needham, center, becomes emotional as she tries to answer a question from a reporter, during news conference about their sister's death, Thursday, July 16, 2015 in Chicago.  Their attorney Cannon Lambert, left, and their uncle Paul Needham, right, were also present. Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old woman who authorities say hanged herself in a Texas jail after her arrest for allegedly kicking an officer following a traffic stop gave no indication she was in such an emotional state that she would kill herself, her sister said Thursday. (Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT CHICAGO TRIBUNE; CHICAGO SUN-TIMES OUT; DAILY HERALD OUT; NORTHWEST HERALD OUT; THE HERALD-NEWS OUT; DAILY CHRONICLE OUT; THE TIMES OF NORTHWEST INDIANA OUT; TV OUT; MAGS OUT; NO SALES
Michael Wolfe, City of Hempstead Mayor, left, Frank Jackson, City of Prairie View Mayor, and Lois Kolkhorst, Texas State Senator, listen as Elton Mathis, Waller County District Attorney, right, speaks to the media at the Waller County Courthouse in Hempstead, Texas, Friday July 17, 2015. Mathis said there were no cameras in Sandra Bland’s jail cell to show if the Illinois woman hanged herself in the lockup as a medical examiner has ruled. Her relatives and supporters dispute the finding. (Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Shavon Bland, sister of Sandra Bland, speaks to members of the media following a prayer walk remembering Sandra Bland, Sunday, July 19, 2015, at DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Lisle, Ill. Sandra Bland, was found dead in her jail cell in Waller County, Texas, Monday, July 16. Bland was a member of the church for over a decade. (Mike Krebs/Daily Herald via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT; MAGS OUT
Rev. James Miller and Rev. Lana Parks Miller lead a prayer walk remembering Sandra Bland, Sunday, July 19, 2015, at DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Lisle, Ill. Bland, was found dead in her jail cell in Waller County, Texas, Monday, July 16. Bland was a member of the church for over a decade. (Mike Krebs/Daily Herald via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT; MAGS OUT
Rev. James Miller, left, and Rev. Lana Parks Miller, center, lead a prayer walk remembering Sandra Bland, Sunday, July 19, 2015, at DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Lisle, Ill. Bland, was found dead in her jail cell in Waller County, Texas, Monday, July 16. Bland was a member of the church for over a decade. (Mike Krebs/Daily Herald via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT; MAGS OUT
Lambert tells @TJMShow the dash cam video shows the trooper pulling his taser out at #SandraBland & she then complies to get out of the car
Failure to signal should never lead to a violent arrest & death in a jail cell. "We can change this." #SandraBland https://t.co/JCaWjIiixa
#SandraBland UPDATE: Civil rights leaders in Texas are discussing working with the family to have an independent autopsy done on Bland.
I HEREBY ATTEST AND AFFIRM That if I die in police custody, I did NOT kill myself. Please get the appropriate revenge. #SandraBland
Beautiful sister, rest well. It's still on. #SandraBland http://t.co/kFts5ZANMR
It appears the FBI has officially been asked by Texas to help with investigation into the death of #SandraBland http://t.co/KnFx5Hu5YK
A major meeting is scheduled Tuesday on the campus of Prairie View A&M Univ. for top state officials to discuss the #SandraBland death
Wow. Just learned that the last man to "hang himself" in the Waller County jail was also arrested for "assaulting an officer" #SandraBland
Witness said #SandraBland was pulled THROUGH HER WINDOW and slammed by police after being pulled over for not using a turn signal.
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Lambert called on the Department of Justice to launch its own investigation, saying the case needs a fresh and unbiased look. He said information the family has received from law enforcement has been inconsistent, which raises concerns about what has and hasn't been given to them.

Authorities said Bland hanged herself with a garbage bag inside her jail cell. Her family has questioned that finding.

The lawsuit names the Texas Department of Public Safety, trooper Brian Encinia, the Waller County Sheriff's Office and two jailers, Lambert said. The 46-page lawsuit seeks a jury trial for unspecified damages.

Bland was in Prairie View, northwest of Houston, when she was stopped for a minor traffic infraction on July 10. Dashcam video shows the confrontation swiftly escalated after she objected to being told to put out her cigarette. Encinia at one point is seen holding a stun gun as he says, "I will light you up!" after Bland refuses to get out of her car. Bland eventually was arrested for allegedly assaulting the white trooper.

Bland's death came after nearly a year of heightened national scrutiny of police and their dealings with black suspects, especially those who have been killed by officers or die in police custody.


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