On July 13, 2015, Sandra Bland was found dead in a Waller County (Texas) jail cell. The official story is that she allegedly used a plastic bag to hang herself. Those who knew the 28-year-old Black woman categorically rejected the idea of suicide, and a dashcam video that showed Texas trooper Brian Encinia violently arresting her prompted the nation to ask: #WhatHappenedToSandraBland? Last night (December 21), the grand jury decided that the jail’s staff was not to blame in her death.
Darrell Jordan, one of the five special prosecutors handling the case, told The Washington Post that the grand jury will not indict any of the staff at the jail, and that the group will come back to “take up remaining issues” in January. He did not specify those issues, or provide any insight into the grand jury’s decision, but he did tell The New York Times: “The case is not over. That’s what I’m stressing right now. The case is not over.”
The family’s attorney, Cannon Lambert, told The New York Times that they are frustrated with the process, and not sure what the grand jury will be discussing next month. “We are unfortunately disappointed by the fact that our suspicions regarding this sham of a process have come to fruition,” he said. “We would like very much to know what in the heck they’re doing, who they’re targeting and if it has anything to do with Sandy and her circumstances,” Mr. Lambert said.
Reactions have been emotional and direct. Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said that Bland “would be alive today if she were a White woman.”
Statement on grand jury decision in Sandra Bland case: pic.twitter.com/r1oFu9MHWc— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) December 22, 2015
Others shared how this decision impacts the way they view the justice system.
With each one of these non-indictments, the little trust we had in the judicial process erodes. #SandraBland— Eddie S. Glaude Jr. (@esglaude) December 22, 2015
Has the American justice system lost its mind? How can a woman die in police custody without anyone being held accountable?! #SandraBland— Laura Bennett (@lauraaaaaxxxxx) December 22, 2015
Bland’s family still has a wrongful death suit pending in civil court. That trial will not begin until January 23, 2017.