Rafeal Zuniga, a former guard at the Waller County, Texas jail where Sandra Bland died, admitted to falsifying official logs documenting the final events leading up to her death. According to the Houston Chronicle, special prosecutors were aware of the falsified documents, but a grand jury still chose not to indict any employees of the jail or sheriff’s office last December in connection with the woman’s death.
The Houston Chronicle reports that Zuniga, a new hire at the jail, was on duty the morning Sandra Bland was found dead in her cell. During sworn testimony, Zuniga stated that he was directed by other guards to document an 8:01 am check on Bland, although he never actually checked on her at all.
Although the grand jury failed to indict 12 employees of the Waller County Jail, her family has filed a wrongful death suit. The case is scheduled for trial in January of 2017. In February the suit was expanded to include Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Brian Encinia who arrested Bland, his agency, Waller County, two of the jail employees and ten Waller County officials. The suit seeks unspecified damages.
While no one from the Waller County Jail was indicted on murder charges, Brian Encinia was indicted on perjury charges. The charges stem from his testimony, under oath, regarding his actions on the day Bland was arrested.
Video of the encounter between Encinia and Bland, a Black Lives Matter activist, contradicts the trooper’s statements under oath. Encinia testified that he ordered Bland to exit her vehicle in order to conduct a traffic investigation. The jury, which had access to the dashcam video, found Encinia’s statement to be untrue.
Sandra Bland supposedly hung herself with a plastic trash bag, three days after Encinia took her into custody. The 28-year-old civil rights leader was in the process of moving from the Chicago area to Texas, where she was scheduled to begin work at Prairie View A&M University. Those who were closest to her say that her spirits were good and she was excited at the prospect of her new job and life in Texas.
Watch the video below, courtesy of Democracy Now.
Featured image via video screen capture