Legislation Aimed to Improve Law Enforcement Accountability Passes the House



Austin Personal Injury Lawyers

Austin Personal Injury Lawyers - Perlmutter & Schuelke, PLLC

Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) July 6, 2017 – The “Sandra Bland Act,” named after a woman who was found hanged in her jail cell after being pulled over for a traffic stop by a state trooper, was originally designed to put police accountability and anti-racial profiling into place. What was actually passed mainly deals with access to mental health care.

The original Act does not resemble the Act that passed through both the Senate and the House, in Texas. The Sandra Bland Act previously included consent searches and pretext stops. Now the Act includes the requirement for more training in mental illness, de-escalation techniques for jailers and police officers, and permits counties to devise programs to place people with mental illnesses and the homeless in facilities, not jails. Texas politicians indicate they are working on other bills to address items removed from this Act, rather than attempting to pass everything in one bill.

Political watchers suggested the bill’s original content was altered because Republicans, directed by powerful law enforcement groups, controlled the legislature. Nonetheless, having a bill pass the Senate indicates that lawmakers recognize that the circumstances surrounding Bland’s death were problematic.

Whatever the reasons for the bill being altered, the death of Bland was fraught with multiple contradictory reports and questionable evidence. This led her family to file a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death claim is filed if someone inflicts injury through reckless behavior or negligence to another causing the victim’s death.

Every state in the United States has regulations and limitations as to who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. In Texas, the Wrongful Death Act specifies three categories of individuals (statutory beneficiaries) that can file claims: spouses, children and parents.

Bland’s family received a $1.9 million settlement in the wrongful death lawsuit launched against Texas officials. “The loopholes in the system that set the stage for this incident need to be looked at, but it appears lawmakers have some reluctance to do so,” says Austin wrongful death attorney, Brooks Schuelke. Wrongful death claims are difficult for everyone involved and are often filled with conflicting reports and differences of opinion.

“If you feel you lost someone as a result of negligence or reckless behaviour, we can explain your legal options to you,” added Schuelke. “and we can provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision about whether to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.”

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