Family of woman found dead in Texas jail files wrongful death suit – Reuters


AUSTIN, Texas The family of Sandra Bland filed a
wrongful death lawsuit on Tuesday against a Texas trooper, a
sheriff’s office and her jailers, accusing them of being
responsible for the woman’s apparent suicide in a county jail.

The suit, which was filed in a federal court in Texas, said
that officials violated her constitutional rights. The family
was seeking damages but no monetary amount was listed in the
court papers.

Bland, who is black, was pulled over in her car on July 10
by a white state trooper, Brian Encinia, for failing to signal a
lane change.

The discovery of Bland’s body in her cell on July 13 with a
trash bag around her neck in an apparent hanging provoked
suspicions of racist treatment.

Local officials have said she was not mistreated in jail.
Still, her death has helped fuel growing
criticism of U.S. policing amid a string of incidents involving
the treatment of minorities by police across the United States.

The lawsuit said Encinia “intentionally, willfully,
wantonly, and unreasonably deprived Sandra Bland of her rights,
privileges and immunities secured by the U.S. Constitution.”

In addition to Encinia, the suit named the Texas Department
of Public Safety, Waller County, the county’s sheriff’s
department and two jailers as defendants.

The Texas Department of Public Safety has said Encinia acted
improperly in making the stop. Bland, 28, was pulled over by
near Prairie View, northwest of Houston, for failing to signal a
lane change.

The stop escalated into a verbal altercation after Encinia
asked Bland to put out a cigarette and she refused. Bland was
arrested and charged with assaulting an officer, a felony, with
the incident recorded by the police car’s dashboard camera.

The suit also says her jailers did not do enough to protect
or provide medical care.

Bland’s family previously acknowledged a Facebook post by
the 28-year-old Chicago-area native in which she discussed
struggling with depression, but they have disputed officials’
suicide ruling.

“Waller County Jail personnel … were willful, wanton,
and reckless in exhibiting a conscious disregard for the safety
of Sandra Bland in failing to keep her in a safe and suitable
environment where she could be kept free from injury, harm, and
death,” it said.

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