Bernie Sanders Makes Strong Statement About Sandra Bland

December 22nd 2015

Kyle Jaeger

Hours after a grand jury determined that nobody should be indicted in the case of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old woman who died in a Texas jail cell this summer under suspicious circumstances, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders issued a statement about the racial injustice that he says led to her arrest.

RELATED: A Big Decision Was Just Made in the Sandra Bland Case

"Sandra Bland should not have died while in police custody," Sanders said. "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... We need to reform a very broken criminal justice system."

Bland was pulled over for an improper lane change on July 10 in a scene that was captured on dash cam video. After she refused to put out her cigarette (which was not against the law), Texas trooper Brian Encinia forcibly removed her from the car and arrested her. Three days later, she was found hanged in a Waller County jail cell.

While authorities ruled Bland's death a suicide, family and friends raised questions about the official account, contending that Bland was not suicidal and had recently moved to Texas to start a new job. The case gained national attention, prompting protests and investigations by the FBI and Texas Rangers.

Here is the dashcam video footage of Sandra Bland's arrest.

New police dashcam video reveals how the Sandra Bland arrest escalated.

Posted by ATTN: on Tuesday, July 21, 2015

However on Monday, a grand jury announced that nobody — none of the officers or Waller County Jail employees related to the case — should face felony charges in Bland's death. The jurors will reconvene on January 6 to decide on misdemeanor matters, The Washington Post reported.

Sanders has actively cited Bland's case as an example of racial inequality in U.S. policing, referencing her name in national debates and in interviews concerning the need for criminal justice reform. He believes that Bland would have been treated differently, and may not have been arrested at all, if she were white.

RELATED: Bernie Sanders Met With Sandra Bland's Mother and Made This Promise

Compared to white drivers, Black drivers are about 31 percent more likely to be pulled over in the U.S., 81 percent more likely to not be given a reason for being pulled over, and 174 percent more likely to be searched, according to 2014 data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Following the release of dash cam video of Bland traffic stop, Sanders became the first candidate to speak out against the arrest.

He said:

"This video of the arrest of Sandra Bland shows totally outrageous police behavior. No one should be yanked from her car, thrown to the ground, assaulted and arrested for a minor traffic stop. The result is that three days later she is dead in her jail cell. This video highlights once again why we need real police reform. People should not die for a minor traffic infraction. This type of police abuse has become an all-too-common occurrence for people of color and it must stop."