HOUSTON — A grand jury has decided not to indict anyone in the case of Sandra Bland, whose death in police custody raised questions of excessive force and the role of race.
The grand jury met for more than eight hours Monday.
“After reviewing all the evidence in the death of Sandra Bland, a Waller grand jury did not return an indictment in the death of Bland, nor were any indictments returned against any employee of the Waller County Jail,” said Darrell Jordan, a special prosecutor handling the case.
The grand jury will reconvene in January to consider other indictments.
Bland, an African-American woman, was found dead in her cell three days after she was arrested for allegedly failing to use her turn signal on July 10. She was 28.
Officials in Waller County, Texas, have said she hanged herself with a plastic bag. Her family and others have questioned that account.
Those questions continued Monday night.
“We are not going to allow what they have done in a limited, secret capacity to prevent us from doing what we need to do to get answers for the family,” Bland family attorney Cannon Lambert told CNN affiliate KPRC.
Even before the grand jury’s decision, Bland’s family in Chicago called the grand jury system in Texas flawed, saying the testimony should be open to the public.
“Right now, the biggest problem for me is the entire process,” Bland’s mother, Geneva Read-Veal, said. “I simply can’t have faith in a system that’s not inclusive of my family that’s supposed to have the investigation.”
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders also weighed in.
“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,” he said. “We need to reform a very broken criminal justice system.”
In late July, authorities released hours of jail video on Tuesday in an effort to knock down the idea that Sandra Bland was dead before she was brought to jail.
“The reason we’re doing this is because of the misinformation that has been put out — both through social media and even through mainstream media — that has led to the rumors that Sandra Bland was in some way deceased, or harmed, or not well when she was brought in to the Waller County Jail,” Waller County Judge Trey Duhon told reporters at the time.
The video, which does not have sound, shows Bland being brought into the jail. Her handcuffs are removed during an initial intake, at which she appears to be coherent and cooperative.
At one point, Bland holds her head in her hands. At another point, she steps into a bathroom to change her clothes. Bland has her mugshot taken, and she can be seen making a phone call.
Footage from the following day shows Bland meeting with a judge. She makes several more phone calls.
Waller County is northwest of Houston.