Texas Grand Jury: No Indictments In Sandra Bland's Death
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
A Texas grand jury looking into the case of Sandra Bland has recessed without issuing any indictments. Sandra Bland was a black woman who came to national attention after she was pulled over on a traffic violation and later died while in police custody. Her story fueled the ongoing anger over the question of racial bias and excessive force in policing. From Houston Public Media, Syeda Hasan has more.
SYEDA HASAN, BYLINE: So far the grand jury has chosen not to indict jailers or anyone else in connection with Sandra Bland's death. But the process isn't over. Attorney Darrell Jordan of Houston is the special prosecutor on the case. He says the grand jury is still reviewing the evidence and will reconvene in January.
DARRELL JORDAN: We are not finished, and it is absolutely possible that someone may be indicted as it relates to the Sandra Bland case from start to finish.
HASAN: Some activists on social media are calling for the arresting officer to be indicted. Bland's death in Prairie View, Texas - about 50 miles northwest of Houston - fueled criticism that police used excessive force. In July, Bland, who is black, was pulled over for failing to signal a lane change. Her interaction with the white police officer quickly escalated. Dash cam footage shows State Trooper Brian Encinia losing his temper, threatening Bland with a Taser after she refused to put out a cigarette and leave her vehicle.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
BRIAN ENCINIA: I'm going to drag you out of here.
SANDRA BLAND: Open my car door - so you're going to - you're threatening to drag me out of my own car.
ENCINIA: Get out of the car.
BLAND: And then you're going to stun me.
ENCINIA: I will light you up. Get out.
HASAN: Bland was arrested, and three days later, she was found hanged in her cell at the Waller County jail. Her death was ruled a suicide, but her family has challenged that finding. In August, they filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Waller County and state officials. The case is scheduled for a jury trial in 2017. The family's attorney, Cannon Lambert, says he doesn't understand why it's taking the grand jury so long to reach a decision when it has all the evidence.
CANNON LAMBERT: What Mr. Encinia did has been on videotape for five months. Why they need an additional two months to look at a videotape that's 52 minutes long is beyond me.
HASAN: Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis says the grand jury is working diligently to review the facts. In a statement he writes, quote, "the public can be assured that these matters are receiving the scrutiny that was promised last summer." For NPR News, I'm Syeda Hasan in Houston. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.