Sandra Bland’s Family Settles Wrongful Death Lawsuit At $1.9M – Waller County Jail Responsible For Bulk Of Payment Due To Negligence

Months after her death, an attorney for the family of Sandra Bland has reached a settlement in the wrongful death civil suit they filed after her controversial demise. The African-American woman was arrested in Texas after a traffic stop and later reportedly found dead in her jail cell hung with a noose made from a plastic bag. The family will receive a $1.9 million settlement along with important improvements at the jail which aim to ensure that another family will not have to go through their horror and grief.

The attorney for Sandra Bland’s family, Cannon Lambert, told the media that the details of the settlement had finally been agreed upon Wednesday night with the Texas Department of Public Safety. While the settlement amount of $1.9 million was capped by state statutes, the agency will only be responsible for paying about $100,000. According to ABC 13 Eyewitness News, the Waller County jail, where Bland was found dead, will be paying the bulk of the $1.9 million settlement.

Waller County jail will also be undergoing several procedure changes at the jail as part of the settlement for the death of Sandra Bland while she was in their care. It seems that Geneva Reed-Veal, the mother of the 28-year-old, was the person responsible for demanding the changes that the jail is about to undergo. The grieving mother insisted that emergency shift nurses should be provided for every shift at the Waller County jail along with automated electronic sensors which are meant to ensure that cell checks are done in an accurate and timely manner.

The settlement will also require the jail to actively seek out more state funding to go toward further training of the staff for the processing of inmate intake, inmate screening, and additional support measures.

Sandra Bland died in July 2015 while in the Waller County Jail after being pulled over by a trooper near Prairie View A&M University, which is about 50 miles northwest of Houston. The officer involved stated that Bland had made an improper lane change and a subsequent refusal by Sandra Bland to extinguish her cigarette triggered a confrontation. Bland was taken into custody after a struggle. Bland, who lived in Illinois, had been in Texas to interview for a job at Prairie View A&M University.

Dash cam video from Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia’s car on July 10, 2015, showed that the escalation of the traffic stop into an arrest was unlawful. Encinia can be heard saying he had planned to give her a warning, but the officer changed his mind because she proved combative and uncooperative. However, the video showed that he was the one who had been combative, and despite Bland constantly asking what he was arresting her for, the trooper never gave her an answer.

Bland was thrown in jail, and three days later, while her family was still working to gather the $500 for her bail, she was found dead in her cell, hanging from a noose made with a plastic garbage bag. The medical examiner ruled her death a suicide, and the grand jury decided not to charge anyone at the Waller County jail in the death of Sandra Bland. However, Encinia was fired three months after the Public Safety Director promised he would terminate the trooper’s employment.

The Dallas News wrote that Waller County jail was held responsible because jail records showed that during booking, Bland admitted that she had tried to commit suicide previously, and by law, she was supposed to be checked every thirty minutes without fail. All other inmates are required to checked once every hour, and even that was not done. Cannon Lambert said that a former guard at the jail by the name of Rafael Zuniga admitted under oath that he falsified entries in a jail log to make it seem that he had checked on Bland within the hour that she was allegedly found hanging in her cell.

Sandra Bland’s death and the circumstances of her arrest sparked national outrage, and the Black Lives Matter movement became involved. Bland’s family still maintains that Sandra would not have killed herself.

[Featured Image by Waller County Sheriff’s Department/ AP Images]