Verdicts & Settlements

Sandra Bland's family settles case for $1.9M; agreement includes policy changes for Texas jail

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The family of Sandra Bland, whose death last year while in custody at a Texas jail was ruled a suicide, has settled their wrongful death action with law enforcement there for $1.9 million.

Besides a monetary award, the settlement has some procedure agreements, the Texas Tribune reports. Waller County, where Bland was detained, will use automated electronic sensors to ensure accurate, timely cell checks which cannot be falsified, according the agreement. Its jail will provide an on-duty nurse or emergency medical technician for all shifts. Also, the county sheriff’s department will provide jailers with additional training about booking and screening.

Cannon Lambert, who represents the family in their Houston Federal District Court lawsuit, told the New York Times that Bland’s mother Geneva Reed-Veal pushed for the procedure agreements, which are often rare in wrongful death settlements involving law enforcement.

“She has always understood the greater context” of the case, Lambert said.

Bland was stopped by Brian Encinia, a Texas state trooper, in July 2015, reportedly for an improper lane change. Video from his squad car, as well as a microphone on his uniform, showed that the two argued, and Encinia reached into Bland’s car, trying to drag her out, and there was a struggle, the Chicago Tribune reports. Encinia arrested her for assaulting a public servant.

Bland, 28, was found hanged in her cell three days later. She’d told a guard during intake procedures that she’d made a suicide attempt in the past, USA Today reports. The Bland family maintains that she was not suffering from depression.

A grand jury opted not to charge anyone with Bland’s death; Encinia was charged with perjury and fired from his job, USA Today reports.

Waller County will pay $1.8 million of the settlement, according to the Texas Tribune, and the state’s department of public safety will pay $100,000.

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