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  • Sharon Cooper (R), sister of Sandra Bland, kneels over Sandra's burial plot during the funeral in the Chicago suburb of Willow Springs, Illinois, on July 25, 2015.

    Sharon Cooper (R), sister of Sandra Bland, kneels over Sandra's burial plot during the funeral in the Chicago suburb of Willow Springs, Illinois, on July 25, 2015. | Photo: Reuters

Published 4 August 2015

The lawsuit alleges that the Texas trooper who arrested Bland, his department, and two jail guards are responsible for her death.

The family of Sandra Bland, who was found dead in a jail cell after getting arrested during a traffic stop, are suing the police authorities in the U.S. state of Texas for wrongful death.

The lawsuit was filed in a federal court Tuesday and names the Texas state trooper who arrested Bland, the sheriff of Waller County, the Texas Department of Public Safety and two guards at the jail.

Bland, a 28-year-old Black woman, was pulled over in her car on July 10 by a white state trooper, Brian Encinia, for failing to signal a lane change. The encounter resulted in her arrest.

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Three days later, she was found hanging in her cell. The coroner ruled her death a suicide. However, her family had said Bland was not the kind of person that would commit suicide.

The lawsuit said Encinia "intentionally, willfully, wantonly, and unreasonably deprived Sandra Bland of her rights, privileges and immunities secured by the U.S. Constitution."

Authorities alleged Bland assaulted them, charging her with “assault on a public servant” prior to her violent arrest.

However, witnesses said they saw police slamming Bland’s head on the dirt as they aggressively tossed her to the ground, using their knees to restrain her neck.

“We have come completely full circle in that Jim Crow justice at the hands of state-sponsored agents, in this case the police, is alive and well,” writer and activist Brenda Nasr told teleSUR English last week.

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The family said that even if Bland had in fact committed suicide, the police officer and the jail guards mistreated her and did not provide sufficient care to keep her from harms way.

“Waller County Jail personnel ... were willful, wanton, and reckless in exhibiting a conscious disregard for the safety of Sandra Bland in failing to keep her in a safe and suitable environment where she could be kept free from injury, harm, and death," the lawsuit stated.

Bland's death brought forward a new outcry against police brutality and racism against Blacks in the U.S. in the wake of a series of high-profile cases of Black people murdered at the hands of the white police.   

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