The Corner

Law & the Courts

Sandra Bland’s Death Was a Tragedy, Not a Murder

Via Fox News:

A grand jury declined to issue felony indictments late Monday against a Texas county sheriff’s officers or jailers in connection with the death of a black woman who was arrested after a traffic stop this past summer.

Special prosecutor Darrell Jordan told reporters the Waller County grand jury would reconvene next month to decide whether the state trooper who initially arrested 28-year-old Sandra Bland should face charges.

As in Ferguson, the grand jury has made the right decision. Sandra Bland’s death was tragic, as Fox reminds us —

Bland was pulled over July 10 for making an improper lane change. Dashcam video showed her interaction with the trooper, Brian Encinia, quickly became confrontational and she was arrested for assault.

Bland was taken in handcuffs to the county jail in nearby Hempstead, about 50 miles northwest of Houston. Three days later, unable to raise about $500 bail, she was discovered dead in her cell, hanging from a partition with a plastic garbage bag used as a ligature around her neck.

— but the belief that she was murdered by the local authorities became a matter of faith to the most zealous Black Lives Matters adherents. I addressed those claims in depth in July:

Sandra Bland’s arrest was unnecessary. Stopped for a minor traffic infraction, she was going to be let off with a warning. She was unnecessarily rude, Officer Brian Encinia was quick-tempered and grossly unprofessional, and a bad situation became violent. For violating Texas Department of Public Safety procedures, Officer Encinia is on administrative leave, and rightly so. We need law-enforcement personnel to de-escalate tense situations, not to scream at young women, “I’ll light you up!”

Additionally, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards has cited Waller County Jail for failing to provide documents ensuring that jailers had been trained, in the past year, on interacting with mentally ill or potentially suicidal inmates, and for failing to check in on Sandra Bland in person at least once an hour. Jails that permit these sorts of violations need to be cleaned up.

Some in the Black Lives Matter movement have become so attached to the narrative of rampant police brutality against black Americans that they cannot accept a tragic death that does not have a uniformed villain. But there is no reason — zero, zip, none — to conclude from Officer Encinia’s outrageous conduct during a traffic stop, or from the jail’s incompetence, that he, or local law enforcement, must have murdered Sandra Bland. Yet this is now an article of faith among the most zealous Black Lives Matter hashtag activists, one that, by necessity, must be admitted to include not just multiple local policemen — several ended up on the scene of Bland’s arrest — but at least two corrupt district attorneys (district attorney Elton Mathis and assistant district attorney W. K. Dipraam), a county judge (Carbett J. Duhon III), and the assistant medical examiner for Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences. If Bland was murdered, all of them must be in on the cover-up.

This sort of thinking is patently cracked.

Of course, the nature of conspiracy thinking is that everything confirms the dogma at stake. So, unfortunately, the grand jury’s decision will be taken by many as further proof of a crime and cover-up.

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