Sandra Bland’s family settles wrongful death case for $1.9M – USA TODAY
The settlement includes compensation for Bland’s death and several changes to jail procedures in Waller County where she died.
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The family of Sandra Bland, an African-AmericanÂ woman arrested at a traffic stop in Texas who was later found dead in jail, has settled a wrongful death lawsuit for $1.9 million, family lawyer Cannon Lambert said.
Lambert told USA TODAY that Waller County, Texas, also agreed to “unprecedented”Â changes in jail procedures.Â The county released a statement saying a tentativeÂ settlement had been reached but denied wrongdoing in the case that stemmed from an angry confrontation between Bland, 28, and a state trooper July 10, 2015.
“It’s not a tentative it’s absolute, and we are very happy about it,” Lambert said. “We were able to secure $1.9 million for the family and get historic changes, things you never see in a resolution like this.”
Lambert said changes coming to the jail include using automated electronic sensors to ensure cells are regularly checked, staffing the jail with aÂ nurse or medical technician for all shifts and providing continuing education for jail workers. He also said the county judge agreed to press for state legislation that would increase funding and training at jails across the state.
The legislation, Lambert said, would be named after Bland.
Dash cam video from Texas State Trooper BrianÂ Encinia’s car showed the officerÂ pulling Bland over for an improper lane changeÂ nearÂ Prairie View A&M University. The traffic stop escalated, and there was a struggle before Bland wasÂ taken into custody, charged with assaulting a public servant. She was sent toÂ Waller County Jail and held on $5,000 bail.
Bland died three days later. Investigators said she was found hanging in her cell, and the medical examinerÂ ruled her death a suicide.
A grand jury in the caseÂ decided not to charge anyone at the jail in Bland’s death, but Encinia was charged with perjury andÂ fired.
Texas Department of Public SafetyÂ spokesman Tom Vinger told USA TODAYÂ the department is not a party to any settlement. The Waller County statement said the county would directly pay only a $1,000 deductible.
Bland, 28, wasÂ a Chicago-area nativeÂ who graduated from Prairie View, a predominately black school about 45 miles northwest of Houston, and was returning there for a job. On the video of the traffic stop,Â Bland can be heard protesting her arrest, repeatedly using expletives and calling the officer names.Â She screamed that the officer wasÂ about to break her wrists and complained that he knocked her head into the ground.
Some of the activity took place out of the camera’s view.Â Bland was arrested, booked and placed in the Waller County Jail. She wasÂ found dead in her cell three days later, and a coroner ruled that she hanged herself.
Booking papers released by the Waller County Sheriff’s Office show that when Bland was admitted to jailÂ she told a guard she previously tried to kill herself. It was listed as the answer to a series of questions asked of each person booked into the county jail. Bland reportedly told a second corrections officer that she was upset about her arrest,Â but both jail officials said sheÂ did not appear suicidal or mentally ill.
Bland’s family steadfastly denied she suffered from depression or other disorders prior to her arrest.