TX County Settles Sandra Bland Case for $1.8M

     HOUSTON (CN) — A Texas county has agreed to pay Sandra Bland’s mother $1.8 million to settle a lawsuit she filed after Bland died in its jail.
     Waller County’s attorney Larry Simmons, with Germer PLLC in Houston, emphasized in a statement Thursday the settlement with Geneva Reed-Veal is not a done deal.
     “A potential settlement agreement has been reached, but is not yet final. The parties are still working through a few details. In addition, the potential settlement must be approved by the Waller County Commissioner’s Court,” Simmons said.
     All Texas counties have a commissioner’s court composed of five elected officers that administer county business.
     Simmons said Waller County’s insurer will pay the settlement.
     “It does not involve the expenditure of any county funds, other than a modest $1,000 deductible,” he said, adding the county will not admit liability for Bland’s death.
     Simmons declined to put a figure on the settlement because he said the parties agreed in writing that it would remain confidential until finalized.
     Reed-Veal’s attorney apparently had no such qualms.
     Chicago-based Cannon Lambert told Houston’s ABC affiliate KTRK and CNN on Thursday that Waller County will pay Reed-Veal $1.8 million under a deal that requires the jail to have an emergency medical technician and nurse on duty 24 hours a day and install sensors to ensure guards check on inmates.
     Lambert told the New York Times that Waller County will pay $1.8 million and the Texas Department of Public Safety will pay $100,000.
     Former Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia was working for the department on July 10, 2015, when he pulled Bland over for failing to signal a lane change.
     Dashcam footage from Encinia’s patrol car shows Encinia pull Bland from her car after she refuses to put out her cigarette and scream at her “I will light you up!” in reference to his Taser.
     Bland was found dead in her Waller County jail cell three days later. County officials say Bland hanged herself with a plastic garbage bag, but Reed-Veal refused to accept that explanation and in her lawsuit blamed jailers for not watching Bland.
     Bland had recently moved to Texas from Chicago to take a job at her alma mater Prairie View A&M University. She was 28.
     Media around the world picked up the story and it became part of the Black Lives Matter movement, fueled by the traffic stop footage that has been viewed more than 1.5 million times on YouTube.
     The Texas Department of Public Safety fired Encinia over the traffic stop. He is fighting a misdemeanor perjury charge handed down by a Waller County grand jury, which claims he lied in an arrest report about why he told Bland to exit her car.

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