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Family of Sandra Bland Reaches $1.9M Settlement in Civil Suit

Sandra Bland. Image courtesy of Sharon Cooper.

Sandra Bland. Image courtesy of Sharon Cooper.

The family of Sandra Bland reached a tentative, out-of-court settlement Thursday in a federal suit against Texas state and county officials in the wrongful death of the 28-year-old woman, a family lawyer announced.

According to, the settlement calls for Waller County to pay $1.8 million and the Texas Department of Public Safety to pay another $100,000. Final details of the agreement are still being worked out and will require approval from state officials and Waller County commissioners before it’s finalized, officials said.

Bland was stopped by DPS Trooper Brian Encinia in July 2015. The two got into a heated exchange after the Texas woman refused to put out her cigarette and exit the vehicle. Dash cam video showed Encinia dragging Bland from her car and threatening to “light her up” if she didn’t obey his commands. He also accused her of kicking him during the encounter.

Bland was arrested and booked into the Waller County Jail, where she was found hanging in her cell three days later. A medical examiner ruled her death a suicide, but Bland’s family has since refuted that notion. Her mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, later filed a wrongful death suit against several Texas authorities.

As part of Thursday’s settlement, Texas DPS and Waller County will also be required to make a few permanent changes. For example, family lawyer Cannon Lambert told CBS News that the Waller County Jail will now provide a round-the-clock, on-duty nurse and emergency technician for all shifts moving forward.

Tom Rhodes, another attorney representing the Bland family, said the county will also be required to install sensors to ensure cell checks electronically. Meanwhile, the DPS has agreed to provide de-escalation training for  troopers statewide, reports.

It’s hoped that the state will draft new legislation requiring other rural jails across the state to adopt similar reforms. Lambert said that any legislation passed would be named in Bland’s honor.

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