Waller County Officials Won't Face Charges in Sandra Bland's Death

Sandra Bland's body was found hanging in her Waller County jail cell in July.
Sandra Bland's body was found hanging in her Waller County jail cell in July.
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A grand jury has decided not to indict Waller County officials in the death of Sandra Bland, but it could still issue indictments related to Bland's arrest, the Houston Chronicle first reported Monday night. 

Bland was arrested by state trooper Brian Encinia in mid-July after a routine traffic stop turned confrontational. She was transported to Waller County Jail, where her body was found hanging by a trash bag in her cell three days later. Her death was ruled a suicide, and has sparked national protests and investigations by multiple law enforcement agencies, including a Waller County grand jury.

Last night the grand jury chose not to issue charges against employees of the jail or the Waller County Sheriff's office. When she was jailed, Bland had indicated on her intake form that she had recently attempted suicide but still was not placed on suicide watch. In July, Waller County Jail was cited by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards for substandard training in how to handle potentially suicidal inmates, and for failing to personally observe an inmate at least once per hour. The jail was similarly cited in 2012 for violating the 60-minute observation standard after an inmate was found hanging by a bed sheet. 

Dash cam footage of Bland's arrest shows trooper Encinia threatening to use a taser on the 28-year old woman for refusing to step out of her car. She was pulled over near Prairie View A&M for failing to signal during a lane change. Texas Department of Safety officials later said Encinia did not follow department procedures and policies during the traffic stop, and he has been assigned to "administrative duty" since the incident. 

Houston attorney Darrell Jordan, who is one of the independent prosecutors appointed to handle the grand jury investigation, told the Chron that the grand jury has not yet decided whether to indict Encinia.

"The most important thing is for people to realize it's not over," Jordan told the Chron. He said the grand jury will reconvene in January. 


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