A Texas grand jury decided Monday that there will be no criminal charges for the death of Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old woman who was found dead in a Waller County jail cell after being pulled over and then arrested. Bland's name soon became synonymous with the Black Lives Matter movement, as her death — and video of her interaction with a law enforcement officer during the traffic stop — outraged the nation. Bland, who had recently moved to Texas from the Chicago area, was officially declared to have committed suicide by hanging herself in the jail, a narrative her family disputes.
This was the third time in six weeks that the grand jury had convened, the Houston Chronicle reported. The Bland family not only disputed the suicide ruling, but also claimed that there were "serious defects" in the grand jury process because the family had not been interviewed by the special prosecutors on the case, had not been in the know about any physical evidence being presented to the grand jury, and really just didn't know anything about what was happening in the case. "I simply can't have faith in a system that's not inclusive of my family," Bland's mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, said in a news conference. The Bland family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county, who countered with a motion to dismiss, stating that Bland committed suicide because she was upset her family had not bailed her out of jail.
Bland was first arrested on July 10 by Officer Brian Encinia. She had been pulled over for a minor traffic violation — changing lanes without signaling — when a confrontation between the officer and Bland escalated. Encinia, who was placed on administrative leave for violating department policies, was seen on video arguing with Bland and then, off camera, allegedly forcing Bland onto the ground to place handcuffs on her. The Waller County sheriff argued that Bland had been argumentative and combative. She was arrested for assaulting a public servant.
The grand jury's decision to not indict anyone on criminal charges in her death relates to everyone who possibly could have been involved, including law enforcement officers and any employees at the jail. However, the grand jury will still will meet again next month to talk about whether or not to make any indictments specifically related to her arrest.