A grand jury declined to issue felony indictments late Monday against a Texas county sheriff's officers or jailers in connection with the death of a black woman who was arrested after a traffic stop this past summer.
Special prosecutor Darrell Jordan told reporters the Waller County grand jury would reconvene next month to decide whether the state trooper who initially arrested 28-year-old Sandra Bland should face charges.
"The most important thing is for people to realize it's not over," Jordan said.
Bland was pulled over July 10 for making an improper lane change. Dashcam video showed her interaction with the trooper, Brian Encinia, quickly became confrontational and she was arrested for assault.
Bland was taken in handcuffs to the county jail in nearby Hempstead, about 50 miles northwest of Houston. Three days later, unable to raise about $500 bail, she was discovered dead in her cell, hanging from a partition with a plastic garbage bag used as a ligature around her neck.
Bland's relatives, backed by supporters on social media, have repeatedly questioned the official finding that she hanged herself in her cell.
Cannon Lambert, an attorney representing Bland's family, said Monday the decision is 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 wants to see all the evidence and is frustrated by delays in the case. Attorney Larry Rogers acknowledged grand juries usually meet in secret, but said the process "screams of a cover-up." He said lawyers haven't been able to examine a Texas Rangers report on the incident because it's 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.
Bland's 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 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.
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, Geneva Reed-Veal, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court in Houston against Encinia, the Texas Department of Public Safety, Waller County and two jail employees. Last week a Houston federal judge set a January 2017 trial date for that case
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 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 the Bland 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."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.