Sandra Bland's family settles lawsuit for $1.9M

  • Geneva Reed-Veal, left, mother of Sandra Bland, a former Naperville woman who died in a Texas jail after a contentious traffic stop last summer, waits with her daughter Shavon Bland in the family's attorney's office on Thursday. Bland died in her cell at the Waller County Jail three days after she was arrested by a Texas state trooper for a minor traffic offense in July 2015. Her death was ruled a suicide, and Bland's family later sued the county and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

    Geneva Reed-Veal, left, mother of Sandra Bland, a former Naperville woman who died in a Texas jail after a contentious traffic stop last summer, waits with her daughter Shavon Bland in the family's attorney's office on Thursday. Bland died in her cell at the Waller County Jail three days after she was arrested by a Texas state trooper for a minor traffic offense in July 2015. Her death was ruled a suicide, and Bland's family later sued the county and the Texas Department of Public Safety. Associated Press

  • The family of Sandra Bland, a Naperville native who died in a Texas jail cell after a traffic stop in 2015, has reached a $1.9 million settlement in a wrongful-death lawsuit, their lawyer says.

    The family of Sandra Bland, a Naperville native who died in a Texas jail cell after a traffic stop in 2015, has reached a $1.9 million settlement in a wrongful-death lawsuit, their lawyer says. Courtesy of Bland family

 
 
Updated 9/15/2016 6:38 PM

The family of Sandra Bland has reached a $1.9 million settlement in a wrongful-death lawsuit more than a year after the former Naperville woman died in a Texas jail cell, their attorney said Thursday.

The agreement also requires the jail where she was held in Waller County, Texas, to keep a nurse or emergency medical technician on staff for all shifts and to install an electronic system to monitor checks on inmates, said Cannon Lambert, the family's attorney.

 

In addition, Waller County authorities have pledged to pursue state legislation in Bland's name to allocate additional funding for training jailers on booking and other procedures, Lambert said.

"This will send a rippling effect across the nation to really begin to look into what is going on in our criminal justice system," Bland's mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, told the Daily Herald.

Texas officials insisted the agreement was not yet final, but the family's attorney told The Associated Press the deal was "absolute" and the lawsuit would be dismissed in several days.

Bland, a 28-year-old who grew up in Villa Park, had been preparing for a new job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University, in July 2015 when she was arrested by then-state trooper Brian Encinia during a routine traffic stop that quickly escalated.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The encounter was recorded in a highly publicized dashcam video that showed Encinia pointing his stun gun at Bland and yelling, "I will light you up!" Encinia has since been fired and pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor perjury charge.

Three days after her arrest, Bland died in the small jail about 60 miles from Houston. Texas authorities ruled her death a suicide.

Her family filed the suit against Waller County and the Texas Department of Public Safety. Provisions of the agreement were reached Wednesday night, Lambert said.

Reed-Veal highlighted the "non-monetary piece" of the agreement that she said "means many other families, many other lives will be changed."

"There's never any joy that can be gotten from a dollar figure for your dead baby," Reed-Veal said.

Waller County attorney Larry Simmons confirmed Thursday that a potential settlement had been reached but told The Associated Press it was not final. He also said the parties agreed in writing to keep the agreement confidential until it was complete, and the county intended "to honor this commitment."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Simmons said lawyers on both sides were "still working through a few details" and any settlement must be approved by county commissioners. The county "vigorously" denies any fault or wrongdoing in Bland's death, he said, "and the settlement does not involve any such admissions."

The agreement would cost the county "a modest $1,000 deductible" under its liability insurance, he said.

The Texas Department of Public Safety, also named as a defendant, released a statement saying it "has not settled litigation regarding Sandra Bland and is not a party to any agreements between the plaintiffs and Waller County defendants."

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.