Grand Jury Chooses Not to Indict Anyone Related to the Death of Sandra Bland
A grand jury has decided not to indict anyone in connection with the death of Sandra Bland, who was found dead inside a Texas jail cell in July, ABC 13 reports. Officers and jailers involved in the case avoided indictments, and the grand jury will convene again on Jan. 6 to consider other charges emanating from the case, according to ABC 13.
On July 10, Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old black woman from Chicago who was visiting Texas for a job interview, was pulled over by police for failure to signal before a lane change. The ensuing altercation was caught on camera.
On July 13, Bland was found dead, hanging in her cell in the Waller County, Texas, jail. The hashtag #WhatHappenedtoSandraBland quickly sprang up on Twitter, with users questioning how a minor traffic violation ended in the young woman's death. Bland joined a long list of black women to die while in police custody.
Footage of Bland's arrest, which included images of her being physically restrained and held down, emerged on July 15. "You slammed my head into the ground, do you not even care about that?" Bland says in the video, which was shot by a passerby. "I can't even hear."
The officers also tried to stop the onlooker from recording the video, despite their legal right to record the event.
Waller County officials initially ruled Bland's death a suicide, despite longtime friends denying Bland would ever commit suicide.
"The Waller County jail is trying to rule her death a suicide, and Sandy would not have taken her own life," Bland's longtime friend LaNitra Dean told WLS. "Sandy was strong — strong mentally and spiritually."
On July 21, Waller County officials announced that the FBI would supervise their investigation into Bland's death, led by the Texas Rangers, and that they would be treating the case as a homicide investigation.
"There are many questions being raised in Waller County, across the country and the world about this case. It needs a thorough review," Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said. "It will go to a grand jury."
The next day, dash cam footage of the arrest appeared online. The video depicted a hostile interaction between Bland and Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia. In the recording, Encinia demands Bland step out of her car. When she refuses, Encinia pulls out his stun gun and shouts, "Get out of the car. I will light you up."
Bland eventually exited her vehicle.
Many of those who watched the 52-minute video quickly began to question why there are multiple cuts in the video, suggesting it had been edited.
Director Ava DuVernay tweeted that she could clearly see edits in the video:
In a statement to Mic, Texas Department of Public Safety denied claims that the video had been doctored:
The video has not been edited. To eliminate any concerns as to the efficacy of the video DPS previously requested the FBI examine the dash cam and jail video to ensure the integrity of the video. The entire video was uploaded to include the audio and video of the conversation the trooper had by telephone with his sergeant, which occurred after the arrest. Some of the video that occurred during this conversation was affected in the upload and is being addressed. We are working to repost the dash cam video. (Meanwhile, a DVD of the video will be available to the media upon request later this morning if necessary.)
When Bland's autopsy report was released on July 24, the Walter County district attorney declared Bland's death a suicide.
The grand jury in Bland's case joins the juries who also decided not to indict the NYPD police officer who killed Eric Garner, as well as Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Michael Brown. While officers involved in the death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray were indicted, the jury deciding the fate of one officer — William Porter — was hung on all charges and the judge declared a mistrial.
As news of the grand jury's decision broke, Deray McKesson, an activist for Campaign Zero, a group that advocates for policies to increase police accountability, tweeted a link to the site he maintains with a list of ongoing questions about the death of Sandra Bland:
Dec. 22, 2015, 8:47 a.m. Eastern: This story has been updated.