Grand jurors considered evidence collected by a team of five special prosecutors named by the county’s district attorney, Elton Mathis.
“Having an independent committee to evaluate the case, that can be a positive thing in a situation like this,” Brian Serr, a law professor at Baylor University said.
Among evidence presented in the secret grand jury proceedings were the findings of a Texas Rangers’ investigation.
“There’s nothing in there that shows anything happened but she killed herself,” Mathis had said.
Lambert said late Monday he believes prosecutors’ decision to have the grand jury return in January is another attempt to delay releasing the report. He said he expects to file a motion in court asking a judge to compel Texas authorities to turn over the document.
Bland’s sister didn’t immediately respond to a phone message requesting comment on the grand jury’s decision, and Reed-Veal couldn’t be reached for comment late Monday.
Royce West, a Dallas Democrat who has been a vocal leader in the case, and one of two black Texas state senators, also had said he was “comfortable” with the medical examiner’s determination.
But Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court in Houston against the trooper, the Texas Department of Public Safety, Waller County and two jail employees. State lawyers have asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit.
The Bland family attorneys contend Waller County jailers should have checked on her more frequently and that the county should have performed mental evaluations once she disclosed she had a history of attempting suicide. In her lawsuit, Reed-Veal also contends that the trooper who arrested her daughter, Brian Encinia, falsified the assault allegation to take Bland into custody and that jail personnel failed to keep her daughter safe.
County officials have said Bland was treated well while locked up and produced documents that show she gave jail workers inconsistent information about whether she was suicidal.
Encinia, who in June completed a year-long probationary stint as a new trooper, has been on administrative duty since the Bland death.
Dashcam video from his car showed Encinia at one point holding a stun gun and yelling at Bland, “I will light you up!” after she refuses to get out of her car. The director of the Department of Public Safety, Steve McCraw, has said Encinia violated internal policies of professionalism and courtesy.
Melissa Hamilton, visiting criminal law scholar at the University of Houston, said Bland had no legal right to remain in her car after the trooper ordered her out.
“Whether you like it or not, the Supreme Court has made it clear police are in charge at a traffic stop, and they can make anybody get out of the car — driver or passenger — for no reason whatsoever,” she said. “The idea for that is to allow police to control a potentially dangerous situation.”