Family of Woman Found Dead in Jail Cell Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Police
The family of Sandra Bland, who was found dead in a Texas jail cell last month, has filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the police department alleging that they failed to protect her while she was in custody.
The federal wrongful death lawsuit names the arresting officer, Texas state trooper Brian T. Encinia, along with two guards at the Waller County jail where Bland was held and later found dead in her cell. The family has also named the Texas Department of Public Safety as defendants in the lawsuit.
The family’s lawsuit first states that Encinia concocted a reason to arrest Bland, which put her at psychological risk of suicide due to a stressful situation. The guards are accused of failing to respond to her obvious signs of depression, which included refusing meals and long bouts of crying. In addition, she was placed in an unsafe jail cell, which featured large beams and several trash cans with trash bags.
If a loved one dies as a result of the negligence, reckless, or intentional conduct of another, you may be entitled to bring a claim for wrongful death. Ms. Bland’s mother said in a statement regarding the wrongful death lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, August 4th, that Trooper Encinia “demonstrated a deliberate indifference to and conscious disregard for the constitutional rights and safety of Sandra Bland.”
Bland also had a history of depression, attempting suicide once after suffering a miscarriage the previous year, and was also epileptic. Her family corroborates these statements, which were found in the jail booking documents, meaning Bland informed administrators of her mental condition.
“The bottom line is: She never should have been inside of the jail, period,” she said.
The wrongful death case also states that Encinia’s inappropriate use of force during the arrest, along with trumped up charges of assaulting a public servant, “caused Sandra Bland to suffer injury and death.”
When Texas authorities found Bland’s body hung in her jail cell on July 13th, the coroner’s office performed an autopsy and stated that her injuries were consistent with suicide. However, her friends, family, and eventually the world questioned the truth of the statement – especially in light of the released video of her arrest from Encinia’s patrol car.
“But her sister Sharon Cooper says that even if it was suicide, the trooper mishandled the stop,” NPR reporter Martin Kaste says.
Toxicology reports showed that Bland had marijuana in her system at the time of her death, but her family questions how this happened, because there were no drugs on her person or in her vehicle at the time of her arrest three days before her death.
Trooper Encinia has been relieved of duty pending a criminal investigation. The family’s wrongful death lawsuit does not state specific monetary damages in the case.