Sandra Bland’s family criticizes grand jury process

20 Jan 2016 | Author: | No comments yet »

Illinois family of black woman who died in Texas jail cell has no faith in grand jury process.

CHICAGO – The family of a black woman who died in a Texas jail last summer says they have no faith in a grand jury that’s considering criminal indictments. Sandra Bland’s mother and sisters spoke at a news conference in Chicago Monday, four days after a judge set a 2017 trial date for their wrongful death lawsuit. Their lawyer, Cannon Lambert, says that the investigation into Bland’s death that was held by the Texas Rangers couldn’t be used to conclude the case because the plaintiffs weren’t able to review the findings from the Rangers’ report.

Her family disputes the finding and is seeking unspecified damages from the Texas Department of Public Safety, the white state trooper who arrested her, Waller County and two jailers. Bland, a 28-year-old Chicago area woman, was stopped for a minor traffic violation by state trooper Brian Encinia in July after moving to Texas to take a job at Prairie View A&M University. We’re not able to finish our own medical investigation.” Lambert later made the same comments outside the courthouse in downtown Houston, where scores of chanting Bland supporters clogged the sidewalk. Several dozen of them were inside the courtroom during the hourlong status hearing, and Hittner allowed the courtroom doors to stay open so people outside in the hall could listen.

Citing how his legal team wasn’t able to examine the report of Bland’s death, Cannon Lambert Sr., the Bland family attorney, stated to Judge Hittner that he couldn’t accept that Bland hung herself in her jail cell with a plastic garbage bag. “We’ve not had occasion to assess fingerprints on the ligature,” Lambert told the judge. “A lot of information we frankly don’t have. Attorneys for Waller County have argued that Bland killed herself because she was despondent over her relatives’ refusal to quickly bail her out of jail. Seth Dennis, an assistant Texas attorney general, said even after grand jury proceedings are complete, he may not be able to provide a copy of the report for the civil case if there’s an ongoing criminal matter. Bland’s death occurred amid heightened scrutiny nationwide of police and their dealings with black suspects, especially those who have been killed by officers or die in police custody. He had pulled her over in Prairie View in Waller County, about 50 miles northwest of Houston, for making an improper lane change. “I’m not OK,” Geneva Reed-Veal, Bland’s mother, said after Thursday’s hearing. “My daughter is gone. … I walked into these (courthouse) doors with continuations, dates and delays.

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