Gone But Not Forgotten: Happy Birthday to Sandra Bland, a Warrior for Justice From the Grave

0 Posted by - February 7, 2021 - Birthdays, Gone But Not Forgotten, Heartbreaking, Injustices, Racism

By Victor Trammell

Associate Producer: Nomalanga Mhlauli-Moses for HealthyBlackWoman.com

Photo credits: HBO Films

The young, lovely, yet tragically late Ms. Saundra Bland (pictured) was born on February 7, 1987 in Naperville, Illinois.

Bland was one of five beautiful sisters. Her July 2015  death made national headlines and placed major scrutiny on Waller County jail officials. The whole ordeal started when Bland was pulled over by a Texas State Trooper for failing to use a turn signal. She ended up getting arrested and booked into the Waller County Jail after the unfair ordeal with the State Trooper.

Many people questioned the arrest of Bland and believe that she should have just been ticketed then sent on her way. Brian Encina, the former Texas State Trooper who arrested Bland was subsequently indicted on a perjury charge and fired from the law enforcement agency where he worked.

When Bland was taken to jail, she was grossly neglected by the staff members there. Waller County Jail officials have stuck to their story of Bland committing suicide in her jail cell three days after her arrest. However, no evidence of suicide was ever presented to Bland’s family.

Many of Bland’s family members contended that she would never kill herself. From the outset, law enforcement investigators with the Waller County District Attorney’s Office, the Texas Rangers, and even the F.B.I. treated Bland’s death like a homicide.

“There are too many questions that still need to be resolved. Ms. Bland’s family does make valid points that she did have a lot of things going on in her life that were good,” Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis told reporters at a press conference, which was held after Bland’s death.

There were roughly two hours of time during Bland’s jail stay where no member of the Waller County Jail staff came by her cell to check on her. According to formal corrections protocol, there is supposed to be a jail staff member checking on inmates once every hour. Elements that are indicative of a murder cover-up were very plausible, in this case.

The family of Sandra Bland eventually received a settlement of $1.9 million in a wrongful death lawsuit, which was filed against Waller County, Texas. In the end, however, Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal feels that the settlement helps the family secure some kind of legal victory against Waller County, Texas.

“Right now my emotion is joy, pure joy…There’s a sense of God’s justice for me,” Reed-Veal told Mike Galanos on HLN during a television interview.

Following the settlement payout, a major policy change went underway at the Waller County Jail. Preventative legislation named in Bland’s honor is also being worked on.

*This article is an update to a report previously published by HealthBlackWoman.com on September 16, 2016. All direct citations in this report from the previous one were used with permission.

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