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Sandra Bland’s family reaches $1.9 million settlement in civil suit

The family of Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old black woman who died while in police custody, has reached a $1.9 million settlement in the wrongful death lawsuit, the family’s attorney said Thursday.

Cannon Lambert, one of three attorneys representing the Bland family, told KTRK-TV that the settlement called for the Waller County jail in Hempstead, Texas, to pay $1.8 million of the compensation for Bland’s death, and the Texas Department of Public Safety to pay the remaining $100,000.

Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, also said conditions were attached to the settlement, including procedural changes for Waller County and the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The terms require the jail to hire an emergency nurse for all shifts and set up automated sensors to ensure timely cell checks, and for the Department of Public Safety to provide statewide de-escalation training for troopers.

Additionally, it said any legislation that brought changes to rural jails in Texas would be named after Sandra Bland.

“One thing I had hoped for since beginning of the case was that Sandra’s case would change things for people in rural jails, where the awareness and accountability surrounding what’s happening to them is virtually nonexistent,” United Methodist minister Hannah Bonner told the Chronicle.

Bland was found hanging in her jail cell three days after she was arrested for failing to use her turn signal while changing lanes. Dashcam video of the traffic stop showed an escalated confrontation between Bland and Trooper Brian Encinia, who is white.

Video by Texas Department of Public Safety

When Bland refused to put out a cigarette, Encinia ordered her to exit the car and threatened to deploy a stun gun before arresting her.

A medical examiner had ruled Bland’s death a suicide, but Reed-Veal filed a federal lawsuit in August 2015, questioning the events surrounding the arrest and her daughter’s death.

In December, a grand jury declined to indict anyone for Bland’s death. Encinia, however, was indicted on a perjury charge in January, a decision that Bland’s mother said was “not justice.” The Department of Public Safety fired Encinia in March.

Thursday’s settlement awaits approval from a judge.

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