November 9, 2016
In September 2016, parties agreed to a $1.9 million settlement in the case of Sandra Bland, a woman who lost her life after incarceration in a Texas jail during the summer of 2015. The courts awarded the money to her mother, Geneva Reed-Veal. While officials are questioning the finality of the agreement, a lawyer representing the mother claims that the deal has been completed.
Ms. Bland, who was African-American, was jailed after she was stopped by a white Texas law enforcement officer. She died while in custody, her death determined to be a suicide. Her family eventually filed a civil lawsuit against the Texas Department of Public Safety and Waller County.
The 28-year-old woman was stopped by the state trooper for reportedly not signaling during a lane change. The incident escalated, and the state trooper directed her from the vehicle and then forced her to the ground. She was eventually charged with assaulting a law enforcement officer. Bail was set at $500, which she could not immediately pay.
A video confirms that the officer, Brian Encinia, pulled a stun gun out and warned Bland, “I will light you up!” Further recordings document Bland’s screams that the officer knocked her down and hurt her wrists. Encinia was eventually fired and charged with perjury, to which he pled not guilty.
The settlement includes further stipulations that the facility retain appropriate medical personnel on the premises 24 hours a day and install electronic detectors to monitor the health of those in custody. Further action includes possible training for jail personnel regarding the proper monitoring of inmates. Reed-Veal indicated that these stipulations were very important to her. She stated that the ruling was a victory for all mothers who have lost children to police brutality.
A representative for Waller County did not discuss the agreement, citing issues of confidentiality. He added that the matter is awaiting final approval by county commissioners and that the civil settlement does not include any admission of blame in Bland’s death. A grand jury investigating the criminal case did not charge any personnel from the jail in the matter.
If you believe that your civil rights have been violated due to the overzealous behavior of law enforcement person, contact our law firm to secure knowledgeable representation.