“What happened to my daughter?” Geneva Reed-Veal asked in a press conference on Tuesday. “What happened to Sandra Bland?”
Bland’s family, along with their attorney, Cannon Lambert Sr., answered questions about a wrongful death lawsuit they plan to file against Bland’s arresting officer, Brian Encinia; the Waller County sheriff; two jailers; and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).
Lambert said the family is suing for answers and to hold those involved in Bland’s death accountable. “Our independent medical examination is waiting for information that sits in the hands of Waller County,” he said. “We don’t even know the time of death,” and “we don’t have the full toxicology report.”
“As a mother, my inner [voice] is telling me she didn’t do it,” said Veal of her daughter’s alleged suicide on July 13. “The bottom line is she never should have been inside the jail.”
The lawsuit alleges Encinia "falsified an allegation of assault on a public servant" in order to take her into custody. The complaint also says the jailers did nothing when Bland refused food and cried uncontrollably.
“I’ve watched the video once, I will not watch it again,” said Veal about the dash-cam video of her daughter’s interaction with State Trooper Encinia released July 21. “Anger, disgust, disappointment and sadness. Those are my feelings,” she said. “I’ve chosen to challenge those feelings in another way. You won’t see me screaming yelling, that’s not my M.O.”
They don’t want to see this happen to another family,” said Lambert of his clients. “It’s gotta stop”
Lambert also said the family is prepared to accept whatever outcome of the investigation.
“This is a reasonable family. This is a logical family,” he said. These women are prepared to manage whatever comes their way.”
Bland’s sister, Sharon Cooper, reminded the press that Bland is survived by nine nieces and nephew ages 8 to 17 years old. Bland was a member of a sorority, she said. “But more than anything she was a phenomenal friend.”
Bland was arrested on July 10 during a routine traffic stop for a failure to change lanes. Bland’s interaction with the Texas state trooper who pulled her over, Brian Encinia, escalated quickly. Encinia pulled out his taser and said to Bland: “I will light you up.”
Bland died in the Waller County jail of an alleged suicide. The family indicated in Tuesday’s press conference that they were waiting to hear where to send bail money to Bland, but the next call they received was that of her death. Bland told them her bail was set for $5,000.
The investigation is being led by the Texas Rangers, a wing of DPS. The FBI is shadowing the investigation, but it is unclear whether or not they are conducting their own, separate investigation. Fusion pointed out in an earlier article that the Rangers are part of the same agency that arrested Bland, the Texas state troopers.
Collier Meyerson is a reporter at Fusion with a focus on race and politics. She lives in Brooklyn.