When the family of Sandra Bland, the woman who lost her life in a Texas jail in 2015, got news of her passing, they could not believe what they were hearing. She had recently obtained a new job at her alma mater in Texas and was set to begin a wonderful journey.
The family had innumerable questions when they were told that Bland had committed suicide while in custody.
Bland had been pulled over 3 days prior by Texas State Trooper, Brian Encinia, for a minor traffic violation. It was reported that Bland and Encina engaged in a heated argument involving Bland putting out her cigarette, and resulted in Encinia opening the car door and forcing her out.
Dash cam footage showed Encinia forcing Bland the out of the car and placing handcuffs on her.
Bland was arrested for assaulting a public servant.
Bland was taken to the local Waller County Jail where she was booked, and according to reports, screened for mental health issues. Bland responded that she had experienced suicidal thought in the past, but was not feeling suicidal at the time of booking.
Three days later, Bland was found dead in her cell, with the death being ruled a suicide.
Both the FBI and the Texas Rangers completed investigations, and screening processes for new inmates were scrutinized, to try and uncover if there was any failure by the county jail to prevent this death.
Eventually, Bland’s mother filed a wrongful death suit, suing Encinia, Waller County, and several of the jail’s employees.
The lawsuit claimed that jail staff put Bland in a cell with an array of inappropriate items, included a large garbage can, garbage bags, exposed beams, and cords. It was also noted that employees of the jail did not respond appropriately when Bland refused to eat, or when she had spells of uncontrollable crying.
Officer Encinia was indicted early this year on a perjury charge in regards to the Bland arrest and was fired from the force not long after. It was concluded that he had lied about his reason for forcing Bland to exit her vehicle.
He is awaiting trial, and if convicted, can face up to a year of jail time and a $4,000 fine.
Recently, the Bland family was awarded a 1.9M dollar settlement for the wrongful death of their daughter, and Waller county has agreed to policy changes in their jail systems, according to attorney Cannon Lambert.
Terms of the settlement included:
- Waller County paying $1.8M and Texas Department of Public Safety paying $100,000 to the Bland family.
- On duty nurses or EMTs will be available for all shifts at Waller County Jail.
- Additional jailer training will be provided to Waller County Sheriff’s Office.
Losing a loved one in a wrongful death event is something no one should have to experience, but when it does occur, we want justice to be served.