Sandra Bland's Family Reaches Settlement in Wrongful Death Suit

Bland during the booking process at the Waller County jail.
Bland during the booking process at the Waller County jail.
Waller County District Attorney

Sandra Bland's family has reached a $1.9 million settlement in the wrongful death lawsuit against Waller County and the Texas Department of Public Safety, as the Houston Chronicle reported.

After DPS trooper Brian Encinia threatened to physically pull Bland from her car, threatened to use a stun gun on her and threw her to the ground to arrest her all during a traffic stop, the DPS will have to pay Bland's family $100,000 of the settlement. Following the arrest, Bland committed suicide in the Waller County jail.

In July 2015, Encinia pulled Bland over for, supposedly, an improper lane change. Dash-cam footage showed Encinia losing his temper with Bland after she would not put out her cigarette, then telling her, "I will light you up!" when outside the car she continued to ask Encinia why he was being so rude to her. Three days after Encinia arrested her, and just before she was to begin a new career at Prairie View A&M University after moving to Houston from Chicago, Bland was found hanging in her cell, authorities said.

Encinia was also accused of lying in an affidavit, saying Bland "became combative" and was swinging her elbows at him and kicking him in the shin even though his own dash-cam footage contradicted his account. Facing a year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine, Encinia pled not guilty to perjury charges. He was formally fired from the DPS following the indictment.

Since last July, Bland's death has sparked a flurry of criminal justice reform movements, from sharpening jail staff's ability to identify new inmates who may be suicidal with more comprehensive screenings to rethinking the money bail system. Even though Bland had marked off that she had attempted suicide in the past few months after the loss of a baby and said she was feeling "very depressed" on the day of the arrest, she was not considered a suicide risk. She was unable to post $500 to afford her release pending court.


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