Sandra Bland's family settles wrongful death lawsuit for $1.9M

(TEXAS TRIBUNE) -- The family of Sandra Bland — who died last year in a Waller County Jail cell — has reached a settlement with Texas officials in a wrongful death lawsuit, a lawyer for the family said Thursday.

Waller County and the Texas Department of Public Safety will pay the family a total of $1.9 million and the county has agreed to policy changes, according to attorney Cannon Lambert. The terms were finalized Wednesday, Lambert said.

The fight began on July 10, 2015, when former Department of Public Safety Trooper Brian Encinia stopped Bland near the Prairie View A&M University campus for failing to properly signal a lane change. After a heated argument, the trooper arrested Bland for assaulting a public servant. Three days later, she was found hanged in her cell at Waller County Jail. Her death was ruled a suicide.

The circumstances of Bland's arrest, which was caught on dashboard camera video, spurred a national discussion about race and policing. The FBI and Texas Rangers investigated, Bland's mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit, legislative hearings were held and the screening process for new inmates in Texas county jails was changed.

In federal court, Bland's mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, was suing Encinia, Waller County and several of its employees. The judge in the case ordered mediation in July.

Terms of the settlement:

  • Waller County will pay the family $1.8 million. The Texas Department of Public Safety will pay the family $100,000.
  • "To prevent future document falsifications, Waller County jail will use automated electronic sensors to ensure accurate and timely cell checks."
  • "From here forward, Waller County jail will now provide an on-duty nurse or EMT for all shifts."
  • "The Waller County Judge pledges to actively seek passage of state legislation providing for more funding for jail intake, booking, screening training and other jail support like telemedicine access for Texas county jails AND HE SUPPORTS HAVING ANY RESULTING LEGISLATION NAMED IN SANDRA BLAND'S HONOR!"
  • "The Waller County Sheriff's Office shall provide additional jailer training (including ongoing continuing education) on booking and intake screening."

"The case is settled in its entirety," Lambert said, but "this is the beginning, not the end."

Lambert said Bland's mother is pleased with the settlement "particularly because of the non-economic components."

Click here to see this story as it appeared on the Texas Tribune.


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