A grand jury in Texas decided Monday not to proceed with charges against anyone in relation to the death of Sandra Bland. Bland was arrested by officers of the Waller County Sheriff's department after she was pulled over due to a failure to signal before changing lanes. The incident quickly escalated and Bland was ultimately taken from her vehicle and arrested. The full altercation was caught on camera.
The non-indictment set Twitter to a boil Monday evening and into Tuesday, with many denouncing the justice system that arrested Bland in the first place. Leading the way was Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
"Sandra Bland should not have died while in police custody," Sanders said in a statement Tuesday. "There's no doubt in my mind that she, like too many African-Americans who die in police custody, would be alive today if she were a white woman. My thoughts are with her family and her loved ones tonight. We need to reform a very broken criminal justice system."
Others who followed Sanders' lead lacked the far-reaching platform of the Vermont senator, bur offered no lack of passion.
Regardless of the specific circumstances of Bland's death, she joins a long list of black women who have died while either in police custody or during confrontations with police. There was Miriam Carey, a 34-year-old dental hygienist who was fatally shot by law enforcement after making a wrong turn near the White House. There was Alberta Spruill, a 57-year-old woman who died after NYPD officers accidentally launched a stun grenade into her home. A 92-year-old woman, Kathryn Johnston, was killed during a drug raid gone horribly wrong. Alesia Thomas, 35, was kicked repeatedly by an LAPD officer and died.
The failure to indict those involved in the Bland case also mirrors what has become the standard approach for alleged police misconduct. There were no charges for New York officer Daniel Pantaleo, who choked Eric Garner to death in broad daylight. The same went for Ferguson, Missouri, officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed the unarmed teenager Michael Brown. Indictments, when they happen, also do not guarantee convictions, as was the case last week when a hung jury resulted in a mistrial in for William Porter, the first of six officers on trial in connection to the death of Baltimore man Freddie Gray. City authorities have announced their intention to try Porter again.
The full story of Sandra Bland, however, remains mysterious. Now, with the possibility for a trial closed, it is unlikely that people will get the answers they're seeking.
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