Sandra Bland’s family settles wrongful death suit for $1.9 million

HEMPSTEAD , Texas, Sept. 15 (UPI) — The family of Sandra Bland reached a $1.9 million settlement in their wrongful death civil suit, their lawyer said.

Attorney Cannon Lambert made the announcement Wednesday.

Officials said Bland, 28, killed herself in 2015 in a Waller County, Texas, jail cell after her arrest on a traffic violation. A grand jury later decided no one would be indicted in connection with her death, and in August 2015 her family filed the federal wrongful death suit. The family said Bland should not have been arrested and that she was later held in dangerous conditions without proper supervision.

The Texas Department of Public Safety will pay $100,000 of the settlement, the maximum it can pay under state statues. The Waller County Jail will pay the remaining $1.8 million and under conditions of the settlement will make improvements in the safety of inmates.

Bland, of Napierville, Ill., was stopped by police on July 10, 2015, for a lane change violation as she drove to Prairie View AM University, an historically black college and her alma mater. Video from dashboard-mounted camera in the police car driven by Texas Trooper Brian Encinia, who is white, indicated Bland was ordered to put out a cigarette, which she did not do. Encinia ordered Bland from the car, threatened her with a stun gun and arrested her. She was found dead the next day in her jail cell, an autopsy ruling her death a suicide caused by asphyxiation. Investigations by the FBI and the Texas Rangers concurred with the findings.

Her friends and family have maintained she was murdered in jail, and filed the deferral wrongful death suit in August 2015.

Encinia was indicted by a grand jury for lying about the circumstances of Bland’s arrest, a misdemeanor perjury charge, and was fired by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

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