Sandra Bland's Family Seek Answers and Damages Via Lawsuit
Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

Sandra Bland selfie (Image: File)

According to reports, the family of Sandra Bland, a woman found dead in a Texas jail three days after a confrontation with a state trooper, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit Tuesday against the officer and other officials. Bland’s July 13 death has led to public protests and outcries for justice after video of her arrest and her mugshot photo lead to accusations of questionable circumstances surrounding her death. The family is still awaiting answers from investigators.

[WATCH: Sandra Bland’s Mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, Talks Lawsuit]

Bland was in Prairie View, Texas, when she was stopped July 10 for a minor traffic violation. Dashcam video of the stop and subsequent arrest shows a verbal confrontation between Bland and the officer, one that becomes physical, with Bland being threatened with a taser. After the confrontation, she is arrested for allegedly assaulting the trooper and taken into custody.

An autopsy determined that Bland hanged herself from a partition in the cell with a garbage bag.

“The bottom line is she never should have been inside the jail cell. Period,” Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, said at a news conference. Reed-Veal believes Bland wouldn’t hang herself, and her feelings as a mother say her daughter didn’t. But “anything is possible,” she said.

The lawsuit cites Reed-Veal as plaintiff, seeking unspecified punitive damages “for egregious acts and omissions” by Trooper Brian Encinia, the Texas Department of Public Safety, Waller County, the sheriff’s office and two jail employees. The lawsuit alleges that Encinia falsified the assault allegation to take Bland into custody, that Waller County jail personnel did not ensure her psychological safety, and that she was placed in a cell “with a variety of inappropriate items for a jail cell, including a large garbage can, garbage bags, exposed beams, cords, and other items.”

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Janell Hazelwood

Janell Hazelwood is associate managing editor at Black Enterprise, managing content across core areas of Money, Career, Small Business and Technology. She is also a featured blogger with My Two Cents, providing insights on branding, millennial career development, employment trends and leadership. She was previously a content producer and copy editor for Black Enterprise magazine, working across several editorial sections. The Hampton University graduate got her start in the newspaper industry, having worked for companies including The New York Times and Scripps Howard News Service. Her works and insights have appeared on The Huffington Post, MadameNoire, E!Online, Brazen Careerist, CBS News, and Arise TV.


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