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Sandra Bland’s family reportedly reaches $1.9 million settlement in wrongful death lawsuit

By Mark Berman,

The family of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old black woman who died in a Texas jail last year, has reportedly reached a settlement in the wrongful death lawsuit they filed in federal court.

Geneva Reed-Veal, Bland’s mother, filed the lawsuit against the trooper who arrested Bland, the state agency that employed him, Waller County sheriff’s employees and the county itself less than a month after authorities said her daughter was found dead in a Waller County jail cell.

The lawsuit was settled for $1.9 million, an attorney for the Bland family told ABC 13, a news channel in Texas. An attorney for Bland’s family could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday morning.

Attorneys for Waller County said in a statement Thursday morning that “a potential settlement agreement has been reached, but is not yet final,” adding that there are still details being sorted out and that it must be approved by county officials. They also criticized the fact that news of this agreement got out.

“The parties also agreed in writing that the potential settlement was to remain confidential until finalized, after which time it would be public record,” Larry Simmons, an attorney representing Waller County, said in the statement. “The Waller County defendants intend to honor this commitment. The Waller County defendants also emphasize they vigorously deny any fault or wrongdoing, and the potential settlement does not involve any such admissions.”

Simmons also said the settlement amount is confidential until it is approved and will not involve any county money “other than a modest $1,000 deductible.”

In the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Reed-Veal said that jail personnel “were willful, wanton and reckless” in dealing with her daughter. She also said they showed “a conscious disregard” for Bland’s safety.

This lawsuit said that jail personnel put her in a cell with “a variety of inappropriate items for a jail cell, including a large garbage can, garbage bags, exposed beams, cords, and other items.” It also said employees “failed to appropriately respond” when Bland did not eat her meals and “had bouts of uncontrollable crying.”

Bland’s death in July 2015, coming amid an intense national debate over how police officers treat black Americans, prompted national protests. A grand jury opted not to indict anyone for Bland’s death, a decision that was criticized by her relatives.

Bland was arrested during a traffic stop that turned confrontational. Video footage of the traffic stop, released by authorities after her death, showed Trooper Brian Encinia ordering Bland out of the car when she questioned his request that she put out her cigarette.

After Bland refused, the video shows the trooper opening the door, trying to pull her out of the car and threatening her with a Taser, saying: “I will light you up!”

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