The Trouble With the Sandra Bland Case
By Kenrya Rankin Naasel / colorlines.com

An independent probe into the work of the Waller County, Texas, officials in charge of closing the case on Sandra Bland’s July 13, 2015, death in police custody reveals hurdles standing in the way of justice.

Funded by nearly 3,200 individual donors and published by The Huffington Post the investigation examined the current status of the commission that Waller Country sheriff Glenn Smith vowed to convene, starting with the leadership. Here is what it revealed:

Conflict of interest. Sherriff Smith—who was reportedly fired from a previous post for allegations of racial bias and brutality— appointed local defense attorney Paul Looney to lead the commission and pick the remaining five members. But Looney enjoys a close relationship with the county. Since June, Looney’s law firm had a retainer agreement with Waller Country’s top elected official, Carbett “Trey” Duhon III, that paid the firm to send clients its way. Duhon runs the county’s “commissioners’ court” which is the equivalent of a city council, and is the person who would ultimately be responsible for approving a settlement to Bland’s family. (He is also the person who tweeted that Bland had “high levels of active THC in her system at time of death.”) Duhon severed his ties with Looney’s firm earlier this month after the chair of the ethics committee of the State Bar of Texas’ Judicial Section said it represented a conflict of interest.

No deadline. The panel is not being held to a deadline to complete their review of the case, and Looney said that the members are currently just “observing and taking notes.” 

Apparent lack of intent for action. Looney, who is now a non-voting member of the panel at Duhon’s request, told The Huffington Post, “We’re not trying to do an exposé. It’s more in the nature of a consultant report for the sheriff to use as he wants.” He continued, “He can read it or not read it. If he wants to throw the whole thing in the trash can, he can.” Meanwhile, Duhon said that he thought the investigation of the case would hold more weight. “I was told early on that they would be doing a comprehensive review. If that’s changed, that’s not anything I would have knowledge of,” Duhon said.

There have been many pleas to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the case, including anonline petition. And Attorney General Loretta Lynch has been quoted as saying that Bland’s death “highlights the concern of many in the black community that a routine stop for many members of the black community is not handled with the same professionalism and courtesy that other people may get from the police.” But the DOJ is not currently investigating the case. Duhon told The Huffington Post that the county would welcome a DOJ probe.

In a statement, ColorOfChange executive director Rashad Robinson* said:

Sandra Bland’s family members lost their loved one because these elected officials have allowed discriminatory police violence and the highly unjust practice of for-profit bail to continue unabated. Their corruption is the reason why more than two months later not one person has been prosecuted or held accountable for Sandra’s death, despite more than enough video footage and evidence to do so. It's shameful, and yet our national leaders sit by and do nothing. …

Paul Looney, Sheriff Glenn Smith and DA Elton Mathis must be removed from office and prosecuted for their criminal negligence. It’s imperative that Department of Justice uses its power to overhaul the policies and practices that led to Sandra’s death and hold all those responsible accountable.

 

*Rashad Robinson is on the board of Race Forward, the racial justice organization that publishes Colorlines. 

0.0 ·
0
What's Next
Trending Today
The Daily Show's Trevor Noah Talks With Conservative Host Tomi Lahren
14 min · 9,056 views today · "Tomi" host Tomi Lahren gives her take on the Black Lives Matter movement and explains why she lashed out against Colin Kaepernick for his national anthem protest.
This Short Film Plays Out Like an Epic Movie That Will Shake Your Soul - But the Movie Is Real, and We are The Actors
6 min · 8,364 views today · For next year, we need a resolution capable of confronting the crisis we face, and making a future worth fighting for. This short film looks back on the crisis and confusion...
Escape! From the Cult of Materialism (2016)
50 min · 3,920 views today · Does the philosophy of materialism work to destroy our identities, experience, and environment? Join narrator Daphne Ellis on a radical romp through the evidence and decide for...
Bernie Sanders: Carrier Just Showed Corporations How to Beat Donald Trump
Bernie Sanders · 3,237 views today · We need a president who can stand up to big corporations, not fold to their demands.
Who's Really to Blame for Fake News? Look in the Mirror, America.
Neal Gabler · 3,034 views today · Consider for a moment the oxymoronic concept of “fake news,” which we have been hearing so much about lately. This isn’t your typical disinformation or misinformation —...
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 2,937 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 2,622 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
South Koreans Are Really Good at Protesting
2 min · 2,265 views today · South Koreans organize some of the largest and most peaceful protests in the world. Here's what makes them so good at protesting.
Corporate Giants' "Sustainable" Palm Oil Revealed as Sham
Nika Knight · 1,593 views today · Nestlé, Kellogg's, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and others are linked to child labor and forced labor in Indonesia
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 1,361 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
The Most Mind-Altering Photograph of All Time
4 min · 1,141 views today · Carl Sagan narrates the story of the Pale Blue Dot, the one place we all call home. 
A Tribe Called Red and Saul Williams Offer a Powerful Prayer for Standing Rock and Beyond
5 min · 1,068 views today · Music video for "The Virus" by A Tribe Called Red, featuring Saul Williams and Chippewa Travellers.
Why We Need Big Picture Activism
Helena Norberg-Hodge · 1,059 views today · Despite the countless grassroots projects already under way, the global economic juggernaut can seem too powerful to stop. But because more and more of us are becoming aware of...
How a Land High in the Western Himalayas Can Help Us Understand The Crisis of The Modern World
9 min · 932 views today · This is a clip from The Economics of Happiness. Watch it here. It's a brilliant film that was easy to put at the top of our list of the top 100 documentaries we can use to...
The 6 Grand Illusions That Keep Us Enslaved
Sigmund Fraud · 888 views today · For a magician to fool his audience his deceit must go unseen, and to this end he crafts an illusion to avert attention from reality. While the audience is entranced, the...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 886 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
The Difference Between Empathy and Sympathy
3 min · 684 views today · What is the best way to ease someone's pain and suffering? In this beautifully animated RSA Short, Dr Brené Brown reminds us that we can only create a genuine empathic...
Social Media Echo Chambers: Here's How Most of Us are Living in One
2 min · 630 views today · Americans are blocking out the friends and news sites that won't confirm their views.
The Truth About the Alt-Right
11 min · 629 views today · Our comprehensive investigation into the Alt-Right movement, including its origins, its relation to the Trump campaign and broader implications for the future. Read more: What...
EU Energy Targets Will 'Increase Greenhouse Gas Emissions'
Nafeez Ahmed · 617 views today · New renewable energy plan undercuts itself by boosting dangerous wood-burning industries
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
The Trouble With the Sandra Bland Case