No one indicted for death of Sandra Bland

Sandra Bland died in police custody in a Texas jail. A grand jury did not indict anyone for her death


Ben Norton
December 22, 2015 9:30AM (UTC)

A grand jury decided that no jailers or police connected to the death of Black Lives Matter activist Sandra Bland should be indicted, after meeting Monday for around 11 hours.

Bland, 28, died in police custody in a Texas jail in July. She was arrested for allegedly changing lanes in her car without using her turn signal.

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Three days later, Bland was found dead in her cell. Authorities claimed she hanged herself with a plastic bag, but her family and friends insist that Bland was not suicidal, and have raised doubts about the police account of her death.

Activists have argued the incident is another instance of racially motivated police profiling. Brian Encinia, the white police officer who pulled Bland over, threatened her with his taser, warning "I will light you up."

A video was released showing the cop using excessive force, harassing her during the arrest. Bland shouted "you're about to break my wrist." When Encinia aggressively pushed her head into the ground, Bland exclaimed "You just slammed me, knocked my head to the ground. I got epilepsy, you motherf****r." The officer replied saying "Good."

Video experts also said the video of Bland's arrest originally released by the Texas Department of Public Safety may have been edited.

Bland's family and Black Lives Matter activists rallied around what they see as the senseless imprisonment and subsequent death of the young woman, who had just moved to Texas to work at Prairie View A&M University.

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At a news conference on Monday, Bland's family explained they do not have faith that Texas Rangers adequately investigated her killing, or that special prosecutors impartially presented evidence to the grand jury, the Chicago Tribune reported.

"Right now the biggest problem I have is the entire process," Bland's mother said. "It's the secrecy of it all."

"I simply can't have faith in a system that's not inclusive of my family," she added. "We're supposed to have an investigation to show us what's happening. We know what we've been listening to in the media... but we don't have any real evidence."

A grand jury also refused to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who killed unarmed black teen Michael Brown, and Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who strangled black father Eric Garner to death on a Staten Island sidewalk for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes.

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Brown's and Garner's deaths at the hands of police, along with the impunity for the officers responsible, inspired civil rights uprisings against police brutality and structural racism in Ferguson and beyond.


Ben Norton

Ben Norton is a politics reporter and staff writer at AlterNet. You can find him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.

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