Protesters are demanding that U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch intervene after a Texas grand jury refused to indict anyone in connection to the death of Sandra Bland. Ms. Bland was pulled over and arrested after a routine traffic stop for failing to signal a lane change and was found dead of an alleged suicide in her jail cell three days later. Even though no one was indicted for Bland’s death, the investigation is still open and prosecutors could potentially slap Trooper Brian Encina with criminal charges when it reconvenes next month.
Activist Deric Muhammad and approximately 20 other protesters gathered in front of the Waller County Courthouse in Texas on Tuesday. Deric Muhammad told reporters, “The Sandra Bland case is just the latest in a string of injustices and miscarriages of justice in this country.” Footage of the infamous traffic stop vividly shows the trooper got frustrated when Ms. Bland asked why she had to put out her cigarette while seated in her own car. The trooper threatened to remove her by force, shouting, “I’m giving you a lawful order!” Bland was restrained and subsequently arrested and charged with assaulting an officer, which is a felony. When she was found dead three days later in her cell with a trash bag around her neck, suspicions of racist treatment were raised.
A Chicago-based lawyer for the Bland family named Cannon Lambert says he believes Trooper Encina never had probable cause to make the traffic stop, that the trooper had committed assault and battery while arresting Bland, and that he had omitted important information from his incident report. The family also disputes the medical examiner’s finding that Ms. Bland killed herself.
When I first saw the dash-cam footage of the incident I got a sick feeling in my stomach witnessing the gross display of power exercised by the cop. Ms. Bland asks rational and reasonable questions during the traffic stop and responds to all of the trooper’s questions up until the point she is pulled from her own car. Therefore, Sandra Bland should never have been arrested in the first place. Subsequently, she should have never been in the jail facility where she ended up dying.