Arrested for failing to put out her cigarette, Sandra Bland was found dead inside her jail cell three days later after guards failed to perform routine checks on her. According to an attorney for Sandra Bland’s family, an agreement was reached on Wednesday night to settle the wrongful death civil lawsuit for $1.9 million.
Around 4:30 p.m. on July 10, 2015, Sandra Bland was driving through Waller County, Texas, when Officer Brian Encinia pulled her over for failing to signal during a lane change. After giving her driver’s license and insurance card to Officer Encinia, Bland remained in her vehicle while Encinia spent several minutes in his patrol car running a background check on her. After exiting his patrol car, Encinia approached Bland’s vehicle and began writing out a warning.
According to the dash cam footage, Encinia asked Bland to put out her cigarette and when she asked for a reason, he immediately escalated the situation and attempted to remove her from the car by force. Due to the fact that Bland was wearing her seatbelt, Encinia failed to pull her out of the vehicle. Instead, he aimed his Taser at her face and ordered her out of the car.
As Bland attempted to record the incident on her cellphone, Encinia ordered her to drop the phone. After she complied, Encinia slammed her head to the ground while refusing to explain why he was arresting her. When Bland told the officers that she has epilepsy, Encinia responded, “Good.”
Charged with assaulting an officer, Bland ended up at the Waller County Jail. In a phone call to her family, Bland requested help covering her $5,000 bail and taking legal action against Encinia. Three days after her arrest, Bland was found hanging from a metal hook in her cell.
Although the guards claimed they performed routine checks on the inmates, a report from the Texas Commission on Jail Standards found that the guards failed to observe inmates every 60 minutes per policy. Indicted on a perjury charge because the grand jury determined that he had lied about his reason for removing Bland from the car, Encinia was fired from the department in January and is scheduled for a status hearing on October 11.
Despite the fact that the county commissioner’s court has yet to approve the settlement, Cannon Lambert, an attorney representing Bland’s family, announced on Thursday that the city has agreed to settle their wrongful death civil suit for $1.9 million. According to Lambert, the Waller County Jail will be required to pay $1.8 million while the Texas Department of Public Safety will pay $100,000.
Included in the settlement, Waller County Jail will be required to install automated electronic sensors to ensure accurate detainee checks without potential falsification of records. An on-duty staff nurse or emergency medical technician will be present during all shifts. And further training will be provided for jailer screening.
In August 2015, Bland’s mother also filed a federal lawsuit contending that her daughter should not have been arrested and had been held in dangerous conditions without proper supervision. The federal case is scheduled for January 2017.