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Sandra Bland’s family settles wrongful death lawsuit for $1.9 million

Bland died in July 2015 while in police custody.


Andrew Couts


Posted on Sep 15, 2016   Updated on May 26, 2021, 12:24 am CDT

The family of Sandra Bland, who died while in police custody last year, has settled its wrongful death lawsuit against Texas authorities.

Bland family attorney Cannon Lambert told ABC 13 in Waller County, Texas, that the family settled for a total of $1.9 million. Of that, the Texas Department of Public Safety will pay $100,000. The Waller County jail will pay the remaining $1.8 million.

Bland, 28, was found dead in her jail cell on July 13, 2015. Medical examiners found that Bland used a plastic bag to hang herself, which was later supported by an investigation by the FBI and Texas Rangers. Bland’s family and supporters maintain that she was murdered and would not have taken her own life.

Bland was arrested on July 10, 2015, after Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Trooper Brian Encinia pulled her over for failing to signal a lane change. She was visiting Texas from her home in Illinois to apply for a job at Prairie View A&M University, from which she graduated in 2009.

A 52-minute video released by DPS in December 2015 showed Bland arguing with Encinia after he demanded she put out her cigarette, which Bland refused to do. An argument ensued as Encinia attempted to pull Bland from her vehicle. Bland was ultimately arrested and charged with attempting to assault an officer.

Bland’s death served as a flashpoint for the Black Lives Matter movement and other activist efforts protesting police violence committed against African-Americans and other communities of color.

A Texas grand jury decided in December not to indict any officers in Bland’s death. A grand jury indicted Encinia on misdemeanor perjury charges for allegedly lying about the circumstances surrounding Bland’s arrest. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and has since been fired from DPS.

In addition to the $1.9 million settlement, the Waller County jail has also agreed to provide emergency nurses at all times, install electronic sensors to ensure cell checks take place, and pursue additional resources for the processing and care of inmates.

For more information about suicide prevention or to speak with someone confidentially, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (U.S.) or Samaritans (U.K.).

Contact the author: Andrew Couts, 

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*First Published: Sep 15, 2016, 2:59 pm CDT