As Sandra Bland’s family and friends search for answers after the Illinois woman was found dead in a Texas jail cell three days after a routine traffic stop, the local sheriff has named an independent investigator to review what happened.
Criminal attorney Paul Looney, who formed a five-member panel to conduct the top-to-bottom review of practices and policies at the Waller County, Texas, jail at the request of Sheriff Glenn Smith, tells PEOPLE: “We want to create an environment where people like cops. Sadly, I fear we do not have that.”
Bland, 28, had just landed a job in at Prairie View A&M University when she was stopped July 10 for failure to signal a lane change. The escalating confrontation between her and state Trooper Brian Encinia was captured on dash-cam video, leading to Bland’s arrest on assault charges and placement alone in a jail cell, where she was found July 13 hanging with a plastic trash bag around her neck.
The medical examiner confirmed the death as suicide. Her family question that finding, and want a more detailed accounting of what led to her death.
Says Looney of his investigative panel: “We are not former law enforcement, but have experience dealing with the legal system.”
SOURCE: JEFF TRUESDELL