Sandra Bland's family sues state trooper, wants answers

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
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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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