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Grand Jury Issues No Indictments in Case of Sandra Bland Who Died in Police Custody

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Grand Jury Issues No Indictments in Case of Sandra Bland Who Died in Police Custody

A grand jury has decided no felony crime was committed by the sheriff’s office or jailers in the treatment of Sandra Bland, a black woman who died in a south-east Texas county jail last summer.

But prosecutor Darrell Jorden said the Waller County grand jury on Monday reached no decision on whether the trooper who arrested 28-year-old Bland should face charges.

The grand jury will return in January to consider that.

The Chicago-area woman was pulled over on 10 July by a Texas state trooper for making an improper lane change. Dashcam video showed their interaction quickly became confrontational and she was arrested for assault.

Bland was taken in handcuffs to the county jail in nearby Hempstead, about 50 miles north-west of Houston, and remained there when she couldn’t raise about $500 for bail.

Three days later, she was discovered dead in her cell.

Bland’s relatives, along with supporters, questioned a medical examiner’s finding that Bland killed herself. Cannon Lambert, an attorney representing Bland’s family, said Monday the decision was consistent with what the family believes has so far been an attempt by authorities to cover up the events after Bland’s arrest. “They continue to do things we are disappointed in,” he said.

Bland’s mother and sisters spoke at a news conference in Chicago before Monday night’s announcement, where they said they had no faith in the grand jury.

Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, said she wanted to see all the evidence and was frustrated by delays in the case. Attorney Larry Rogers acknowledged grand juries usually met in secret, but said the process “screams of a cover-up”. He said lawyers had not been able to examine a Texas Rangers report on the incident because it was grand jury evidence.

In the days after her death, county authorities released video from the jail to dispel rumors and conspiracy theories that Bland was dead before she arrived at the jail or was killed while in custody. County officials said they themselves received death threats.

Her arrest and death came amid heightened national scrutiny of police and their dealings with black suspects, especially those killed by officers or who died in police custody.

“After presenting all the evidence as it relates to the death of Sandra Bland, the grand jury did not return an indictment,” Jordan, one of the five special prosecutors, said after the grand jury met Monday for about 11 hours. “The grand jury also considered things that occurred at the jail and did not return an indictment.”

Grand jurors considered evidence collected by a team of five special prosecutors named by the county’s district attorney, Elton Mathis.

“Having an independent committee to evaluate the case, that can be a positive thing in a situation like this,” Brian Serr, a law professor at Baylor University, said.

Among evidence presented in the secret grand jury proceedings were the findings of a Texas Rangers’ investigation. “There’s nothing in there that shows anything happened but she killed herself,” Mathis had said.

Lambert said late Monday he believed prosecutors’ decision to have the grand jury return in January was another attempt to delay releasing the report. He said he expected to file a motion in court asking a judge to compel Texas authorities to turn over the document.

Bland’s sister did not immediately respond to a phone message requesting comment on the grand jury’s decision, and Reed-Veal could not be reached for comment late Monday.

Royce West, a Dallas Democrat who has been a vocal leader in the case, and one of two black Texas state senators, also had said he was “comfortable” with the medical examiner’s determination.

But Bland’s mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court in Houston against the trooper, the Texas Department of Public Safety, Waller County and two jail employees. State lawyers have asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit.

The Bland family attorneys contend Waller County jailers should have checked on her more frequently and that the county should have performed mental evaluations once she disclosed she had a history of attempting suicide. In her lawsuit, Reed-Veal also contends that the trooper who arrested her daughter, Brian Encinia, falsified the assault allegation to take Bland into custody and that jail personnel failed to keep her daughter safe.

County officials have said Bland was treated well while locked up and produced documents that show she gave jail workers inconsistent information about whether she was suicidal.

Encinia, who in June completed a year-long probationary stint as a new trooper, has been on administrative duty since Bland’s death.

Dashcam video from his car showed Encinia at one point holding a stun gun and yelling at Bland, “I will light you up!” after she refuses to get out of her car. The director of the Department of Public Safety, Steve McCraw, has said Encinia violated internal policies of professionalism and courtesy.

Melissa Hamilton, visiting criminal law scholar at the University of Houston, said Bland had no legal right to remain in her car after the trooper ordered her out.

“Whether you like it or not, the supreme court has made it clear police are in charge at a traffic stop, and they can make anybody get out of the car driver or passenger for no reason whatsoever,” she said. “The idea for that is to allow police to control a potentially dangerous situation.”

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New Jersey Man Latest American Tourist to Die at Dominican Republic Resort

Joseph Allen is at least the ninth American to have died while staying at resorts in the the small Caribbean country.

An Avenel, New Jersey, man died last week while staying at a resort in the Dominican Republic, becoming at least the ninth other American tourist to die under mysterious circumstances while visiting the small Caribbean country…

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Joseph Allen is at least the ninth American to have died while staying at resorts in the the small Caribbean country.

An Avenel, New Jersey, man died last week while staying at a resort in the Dominican Republic, becoming at least the ninth other American tourist to die under mysterious circumstances while visiting the small Caribbean country.

Joseph Allen, 55, was found dead in his room Thursday at the Terra Linda Resort in Sosua, where he was celebrating a friend’s birthday, his family confirmed to NBC News. Allen’s sister-in-law said that the family was scrambling for answers.

New Jersey Man Latest American Tourist to Die at Dominican Republic Resort

Joseph Allen of Avenel, New Jersey, died last week while staying at a resort in the Dominica Republic, his family confirmed to NBC News Wednesday.

A number of other families reported stories of their relatives mysteriously dying while staying at resorts in the Dominican Republic.

Leyla Cox, 53, an MRI technician from Staten Island, was staying at the Excellence resort in Punta Cana when she died on June 11, just a day after her birthday, according to her son. Will Cox said he still does not know his mother’s cause of death and has not had the chance to mourn properly as her remains still haven’t been returned home.

He also told NBC News that a representative for the U.S. Embassy said a toxicology test would not be conducted on his mother’s body due to broken machines.

Robert Bell Wallace, 67, died while staying at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana on April 12. Wallace’s family asked for privacy and has not confirmed the circumstances of his death to NBC News.

In May, Miranda Schaup-Werner and a couple, Nathaniel Edward Holmes and Cynthia Ann Day, died over a five-day period at the Bahia Principe resort in La Romana.

Holmes and Day were found dead in their room at the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana. Pulmonary edema — excess fluid in the lungs — was listed among the causes of death for the couple in preliminary reports.

The FBI, which is investigating the three May deaths, said further toxicology results on the Americans could take up to 30 days.

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ICE to Remove ‘Millions of illegal Aliens’ in US, Trump says, Scant on Details

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ICE to Remove ‘Millions of illegal Aliens’ in US, Trump says, Scant on Details

President Donald Trump late Monday announced on Twitter that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ICE will begin the process of “removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the U.S.,” but did not elaborate on what new measures will be taken.

“They will be removed as fast as they come,” Trump said.

Mike Morgan, the director of the agency, did not announce any new initiatives during his stop in Louisville on Sunday, where he spoke about the humanitarian and national security crisis at the border.

ICE did not immediately respond to an email from Fox News for comment.

Earlier this month, Trump announced that the U.S. reached a deal with Mexico that includes plans to return migrants seeking asylum to Mexico, where they will remain until they can be processed.

Trump praised Mexico in the tweet, saying the country has been doing a very good job at stopping those trying to gain access to the U.S. border.

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US to Send 1,000 Additional Troops to the Middle East as Tensions Escalate with Iran

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan announced Monday that President Donald Trump’s administration will send a thousand troops to the Middle East amid increased tensions with Iran…

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US to Send 1,000 Additional Troops to the Middle East as Tensions Escalate with Iran

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan announced Monday that President Donald Trump’s administration will send a thousand troops to the Middle East amid increased tensions with Iran.

Shanahan said that the increased forces were in response to a request from U.S. Central Command for defensive purposes to address air, naval and ground-based threats in the Middle East. U.S authorities accused Iran of attacks on two tankers last week, though the country’s foreign minister has denied the accusations.

“The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region,” Shanahan said. “The U.S. does not seek conflict with Iran.”

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, center, speaks about the situation in the Persian Gulf region during a meeting with Portuguese Minister of National Defense Joao Cravinho, at the Pentagon on June 14, 2019.

The decision comes hours after the State Department said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo planned to meet with U.S. military commanders overseeing American forces to provide more proof that Iran was behind the tanker attacks.

U.S. Central Command said the two vessels were hit Thursday by a limpet mine, which is attached to boats below the waterline using magnets.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif angrily dismissed the claims and said they were without “a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence.”

The Japanese owner of one of the tankers attacked in the Gulf of Oman contradicted reports by U.S. officials and the military on the source of the blast, claiming it was struck by a flying projectile.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in an interview with pan-Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat last week that he would not hesitate to confront regional threats.

“The kingdom does not want war in the region, but we will not hesitate to deal with any threat to our people, our sovereignty and our vital interests,” Salman said.

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