Sandra Bland’s Family Files Federal Wrongful Death Lawsuit

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The family of Sandra Bland—demanding accountability for the Illinois woman’s death while in police custody at a Texas jail—filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday, KHOU-TV reports.

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"We are looking for Waller County and the individuals involved to take accountability," family attorney Cannon Lambert Sr. said, according to the Houston news station.

The wrongful death suit was filed against state Trooper Brian Encinia, who arrested Bland; the sheriff of Waller County, Texas; two jailers; and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

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Bland was found dead, apparently by suicide, in her jail cell three days after her arrest, having reportedly used a trash bag to hang herself, according to officials. 

As KHOU-TV notes, the 28-year-old was pulled over by Encinia July 10 after failing to signal a lane change. The encounter quickly escalated after she refused to put out her cigarette, with Encinia pulling a Taser on her and threatening to “light [her] up.” Encinia was placed on desk duty after it was ruled that he violated procedure during the stop.

Officials have also been questioning law enforcement and jail officials on procedures for dealing with inmates who may suffer from mental illness. Bland reportedly told jailers that she had been suicidal in the past, but jail staff said that she seemed OK when she arrived at the jail.

Bland is the first of at least five black women known to have died in police custody since mid-July.

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