Sandra Bland's Family Won't Stop Fighting For Justice For Their Daughter
A Texas grand jury ruled on Monday not to indict anyone connected to the death of Sandra Bland, and her family spoke out in a press conference shortly following the verdict. Geneva Reed-Veal, Bland's mother, said in a video released by the Chicago Sun-Times:
We don't have any information on what happened to my daughter. ... Something bad happened, and something that happened to her should not have happened, period. She should have never been in the cell. ... I'm being asked to accept what I'm told [...] If this is truly what you say happened to her, show it to me. You have it all, show it to me.
Reed-Veal was likely referencing the as-yet unreleased law enforcement reports concerning the July 13 death of her 28 year-old daughter, which the family claims was somehow instigated by Texas police. Bland had been arrested days earlier by officer Brian Encinia in a disturbing encounter that was caught on dashcam video.
A plethora of conspiracy theories have surrounded the case, some of which are supported by the noticeable lack of answers in the case, such as why there was a plastic trash bag in Bland's cell and why the first version of dashcam footage of the arresting officer appeared edited. (The Texas Department of Public Safety claimed that some of the initial video had been uploaded incorrectly.)
The feeling of unease and distrust was articulated by Bland's family's lawyer, Cannon Lambert, who also released a statement to the Sun-Times:
Unfortunately, our suspicions proved to be accurate. The bottom line is that this whole proceeding, frankly speaking, is a farce in our mind.
Bland had been open about her experience with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in a series of videos she posted on Facebook called "Sandy Speaks." The Waller County Sheriff claims this supports the medical examiner's ruling of Bland's death as a suicide, but Bland's family and friends vehemently deny that Bland would ever have taken her own life.
Sandra Bland should not have died while in police custody. There's no doubt in my mind that she, like too many African-Americans who die in police custody, would be alive today is she were a white woman. My thoughts are with her family and her loved ones tonight. We need to reform a very broken criminal justice system.
While no criminal charges will be brought against anyone in the Waller County Sheriff's Office, Bland's family has filed a wrongful death suit against the department that is set to begin trial in Houston in 2017.
Bland's sister, Sharon Cooper, shared a Facebook post about her determination to keep telling Bland's story and continue fighting the injustice she and her family have felt in the case. The family maintains it's united to keep investigating Bland's death until they feel justice has been served.