Protesters on Tuesday demanded that U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch intercede after a Texas grand jury on Monday declined to indict anyone in the jail-cell death of Sandra Bland.
“The Sandra Bland case is just the latest in a string of injustices and miscarriages of justice in this country,” Deric Muhammad, a community activist said as he and around 20 others gathered in front of the Waller County Courthouse in Texas Tuesday afternoon.
“Where will it stop? When will it end?” he said.
Bland, 28, was pulled over and arrested after a routine traffic stop for failing to signal a lane change in Waller County on July 10 and was found dead of apparent self-inflicted asphyxiation in her jail cell three days later.Bland’s death sparked criticism of the trooper’s decision to arrest Bland in the first place, with some suggesting the trooper used excessive force and poor judgment. It also came amid heightened scrutiny of the treatment of African Americans by police.
Earlier Tuesday, Lewis White, a special prosecutor in the Bland case, told MSNBC that he believes her death was a suicide, but that prosecutors presented a wide range of evidence to the grand jury in order to “leave no stone unturned.”
“We didn’t make a recommendation on anything,” White said. The medical examiner had ruled Bland’s death a suicide.
“We’re letting the grand jury make the decision. They’re making all the decisions. The only thing were doing is telling them what type of charges, if they chose to purse them, are available,” he said in a telephone interview.
But White said that the grand jury’s decision Monday does not mean the case is over. The panel could still separately consider charges on conduct related to the original arrest, he said.
Protesters said they would hold demonstrations until January, when the grand jury will reconvene on the issue of the trooper’s conduct.
“The fact remains that if she was never arrested she would have never went to jail, she would have never died,” Jenaki Muhammad, vice co-chair of women’s affairs for the activist group National Black United Front, said.
The Texas Department of Public Safety has said that the trooper who arrested Bland, Brian Encinia, violated “procedures regarding traffic stops and the department’s courtesy policy.”
The Waller County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jail, admitted it made mistakes in not conducting in-person checks on Bland as required — a jailer used an intercom to check on Bland instead.