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.
Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old Chicago-area woman, was found dead in her Waller County jail cell in Hempstead on July 13. Her family and others have criticized Trooper Brian Encinia, who stopped Bland for failing to signal a lane change. Video of the stop shows 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,” attorney Cannon Lambert said during a news conference in Houston.
Lambert expressed dismay that Encinia remains on administrative leave rather than being fired by the Texas Department of Public Safety. The trooper, on the force for just over a year, has been placed on administrative leave for violating unspecified police procedures and the department's courtesy policy.
“We are asking for bold, decisive action,” he added. “The fact that it hasn't happened yet is a frustrating thing.”
Bland's mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, holding a Bible during the news conference, said the events that led to her daughter's death began with an unwarranted traffic stop.
“The bottom line is she never should have been inside the jail cell. Period,” she said.
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.
County and state officials have released findings of an autopsy, surveillance video showing Bland being ...read more