Many of our readers remember the story of Sandra Bland. The 28-year-old woman was in the process of relocating from the Chicago area to Texas last year to work for her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University. She was pulled over by a state trooper as she was driving near Houston. The traffic stop, which was captured in part by the dashboard cam of the trooper's vehicle, turned confrontational.
The trooper, who reportedly pulled Bland over for changing lanes without signaling, instructed her to get out of her vehicle and then forced her onto the ground. At one point, the trooper is seen drawing his Taser and saying, "I will light you up!"
Bland Found Hanging in Jail Cell
Bland was arrested for assaulting a public servant and taken to jail. Bail was set at $500. She remained in jail because she was unable to come up with the necessary amount. Three days after she was arrested, jail staff found her hanging from a partition in her cell.
No one at the jail faced any charges related to Bland's death, which was ruled a suicide. The trooper who arrested her was charged with misdemeanor perjury by a grand jury for his statement that he removed Bland from her car "to further conduct a safer traffic investigation." He also lost his job. He's pleaded not guilty to the perjury charge.
Despite Settlement, County "Vigorously" Denies Wrongdoing/h2>
Bland's family filed a wrongful death suit against the Texas Department of Public Safety and Waller County. This month, they reached a $1.9 million settlement. The county attorney, despite the settlement, says that the county "vigorously" denies any wrongdoing or fault.
Although the terms of the settlement haven't been finalized, according to officials, the family's attorney says that it includes a provision that an emergency medical technician or nurse be on duty at all times in the jail. Bland's mother has said that she wants legislation passed that will help protect other people held in custody to be named after her daughter.
Wrongful death suits can do far more than provide compensation for grieving families. They can be used to call attention to a problem and incentivize those in authority to make changes. Many families use the compensation they receive to help make changes that will help prevent other families from going through what they have. These suits can also help families feel like they've achieved some justice that they weren't able to achieve through the criminal courts.
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