The Legal mambo jumbo is getting so thick you can cut it with a knife – and it always seems to lead to the same conclusion…
Grand jurors in Texas declined on Monday to indict anyone in connection to the July death of a Chicago-area woman, Sandra Bland, who was found hanged in her cell at the Waller County jail, one of the special prosecutors assigned to the case said.
But Darrell Jordan, the special prosecutor, said that “the case is still open,” and that grand jurors would reconvene next month to discuss other aspects of it.
Many activists have called for charges against Brian Encinia, the Texas state trooper who arrested Ms. Bland after a routine traffic stop in Prairie View, northwest of Houston, turned contentious. Mr. Jordan said Monday’s decision not to indict anyone related only to Ms. Bland’s death and to the conduct of the jail staff.
“It’s all in the way you phrase it,” said Mr. Jordan, one of five special prosecutors in the case. “The case is not over. That’s what I’m stressing right now. The case is not over.”
Ms. Bland, who was 28 and black, had recently moved to Texas from Illinois to accept a job at Prairie View A&M University, her alma mater, when she was pulled over on July 10. Her death days later attracted international attention and added momentum to a national debate over the treatment of black people by white police officers. Her family has publicly disputed the authorities’ findings that she committed suicide.
Cannon Lambert, a lawyer for the Bland family, said on Monday night that the family was frustrated with the grand jury process and disappointed that it had not received more information about the investigation. Mr. Lambert said the family first learned that there had been no indictment through news media reports.
“We are unfortunately disappointed by the fact that our suspicions regarding this sham of a process have come to fruition,” said Mr. Lambert, who is based in Chicago.
Mr. Lambert said he was unsure of what to make of Mr. Jordan’s statement that the grand jury would return to work in January.
“We would like very much to know what in the heck they’re doing, who they’re targeting and if it has anything to do with Sandy and her circumstances,” Mr. Lambert said.
Mr. Lambert is representing the Bland family in a wrongful-death lawsuit against state and local authorities. That case is scheduled for a jury trial in January 2017.
Ms. Bland grew up in the Chicago suburbs, and she returned there after graduating from Prairie View, a historically black institution where she played in the marching band and was deeply involved in her sorority.
In her final months, Ms. Bland had recorded videos online about racial issues and policing. Pastors and friends at her church in Lisle, Ill., said she had grown up attending services with her mother and siblings, and had volunteered there as an adult.
On July 13, three days after her arrest, Ms. Bland was found hanging from a trash bag in her cell. The medical examiner in Waller County ruled Ms. Bland’s death a suicide, a finding that was met with suspicion by family members and activists.
Outrage about Ms. Bland’s treatment grew when the Texas authorities released a dashboard camera video of her arrest in Prairie View on a charge of assaulting a public servant.
Trooper Encinia had initially pulled her over for failing to signal a lane change. But the encounter turned tense, and Trooper Encinia eventually ordered Ms. Bland out of her vehicle after she refused to put out a cigarette. Ms. Bland at first declined to leave her car, leading to a physical struggle.
At one point, Trooper Encinia pulled out a stun gun and yelled, “I will light you up.”
In a part of the encounter that occurred out of the camera’s view, a scuffle could be heard, and Ms. Bland indicated that she was on the ground. “You just slammed me, knocked my head into the ground,” she said.
Addressing Trooper Encinia with an expletive, Ms. Bland said, “I got epilepsy.”
Trooper Encinia responded, “Good.”
He was placed on administrative leave after her death.
At her funeral in Illinois, where an overflow crowd of hundreds filled the sanctuary and the church basement, Ms. Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, said her daughter had hoped to spend her life stopping racial injustice.
“That baby did not take herself out of here,” Ms. Reed-Veal said.