Until the tipping point is reached where good cops unequivocally hold bad cops accountable for their actions, the distrust of police by the communities they are sworn to protect and serve will continue to grow. This fact was palpable in the tone of the recent press conference where North Miami City Manager Larry Spring Jr. identified Jonathan Aledda as the shooter of Charles Kinsey. Spring also mentioned a second officer, Emile Hollant, was also placed on administrative leave without pay after giving conflicting statements to investigators.
Holding Hollant accountable for false statements is a welcome development, as the same level of transparency does not appear to be at play in the year-old case of Sandra Bland. A former Texas jail guard recently admitted to falsifying logs to show he checked on Sandra Bland an hour before her death when, in fact, he didn’t, according to a lawyer for Bland’s family.
“There’s no question that it did not happen,” her mother’s attorney, Cannon Lambert, reportedly said. “The jailer told him in the deposition he noted in the jail log he observed Bland in her cell at 8:01 a.m., less than an hour before she was found strangled by a noose made from a plastic trash bag. … In fact, jailers never checked on Bland or about a dozen other inmates that hour.”
However, Waller County, Texas, officials say that is not what jailer Rafael Zuniga’s testimony said at all.
“Numerous depositions have been taken in the case involving dozens of hours of testimony,” lawyer Larry Simmons reportedly said. “It is a gross miscarriage of justice and a misrepresentation for any party to cherry-pick or mischaracterize a small portion of that testimony, and take it out of context.”
Despite Simmons seeing things differently, on Wednesday a federal judge ordered mediation in the lawsuit.
“The overwhelming testimony has been that the Waller County jail staff treated Sandra Bland with courtesy and respect, and even afforded her special privileges, including giving her free access to the jail staff’s toll free phone, which she used to reach out to her family,” Simmons wrote in a statement.
Although no jail officials have been indicted, the state trooper involved in the controversial arrest, Brian Encinia, is facing a misdemeanor perjury charge.