The family of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old African-American woman found dead in a Texas jail cell after a controversial arrest, announced the filing of a federal lawsuit against officials in Houston on Tuesday.
“We are looking for the individuals involved in this situation to take accountability,” Cannon Lambert, the Bland family attorney, told reporters at a press conference in Chicago.
Lambert said the lawsuit has been filed against state trooper Brian Encinia and all officials involved in the arrest and incarceration of Bland.
The action, Lambert said, was prompted by “inconsistencies” in the investigation into Bland’s death and the unwillingness of authorities in Waller County, Texas, to share information with the Bland family.
“[We have been] unable to get many of the answers we have been asking for,” the attorney said. “This family needs an answer to the principle question: What happened to Sandra Bland?”
Encinia pulled Bland over in Waller County on July 10, after she failed to signal for a lane change. The encounter quickly became contentious, and Bland was arrested on a charge of assault on a public servant. She was ultimately jailed in lieu of a $5,000 bond.
Three days after her arrest, Bland was found dead at the Waller County jail, about 60 miles northwest of Houston.
An autopsy conducted by the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences concluded Bland had used a plastic bag to hang herself.
Family members dispute the autopsy findings and contend Bland was killed by someone inside the jail.
“I am still confident in the fact that she knew enough about Jesus that she would not take herself out,” Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, said during the press conference.
“If the facts show without a doubt that was the case, I’ll have to be prepared to deal with that. But, the bottom line is she should not have been in that jail,” Reed-Veal added.
Bland’s death is being reviewed by the FBI and Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis. Neither agency has commented on the lawsuit.
Read-Veal, who described herself as full of “anger, disgust, disappointment and sadness,” said she has faith in the Bible, a copy of which she brought with her to the press conference.
“Justice is going to be served,” she said. “I know that the real truth will come out. It’s got to.”