Officials in Waller County, Texas argued on Wednesday that Sandra Bland’s family contributed to her death by failing to post bail for her before she died in a local jail cell, the Houston Chronicle reported.
The allegation was made in a motion from the county asking a federal judge to dismiss a wrongful death suit filed by Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, against the county, the state Department of Public Safety and officers Elsa Magnus and Oscar Prudente. The suit contends that Magnus and Prudente, who processed Bland during her incarceration, showed “deliberate indifference” to the risk of her killing herself.
But attorneys for the county said that not only did Magnus and Prudenty follow proper procedure while Bland was in custody, but Bland’s family was in the wrong for not paying the $515 necessary to release her. Bland was originally held on $5,000 bail.
“It is apparent now that Bland’s inability to secure her release from jail — and her family and friends’ refusal to bail her out of jail — led her to commit suicide,” the motion stated.
Bland’s case drew national attention after dashcam footage of her arrest on July 10 circulated online. She was found dead three days later. The county’s motion included a copy of the autopsy pronouncing her death a suicide.
An attorney for Reed-Veal, Cannon Lambert, filed a separate motion asking for the complete footage from Bland’s time in custody as well as additional documentation. He also criticized the county’s attempt to blame Bland’s suicide on her family.
“I think it’s amazing that they said that,” he told the Chicago Tribune. “I’m not sure how they can say that without having taken my client’s deposition.”
The issue will be heard in court on Tuesday.
Watch a report on the county’s motion to dismiss the suit, as aired on KTRK-TV, below.