US police have already killed more than 100 people this year

Sandra Bland would have been 30 and Trayvon Martin would have turned 22 this week

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The Independent US

More than one hundred people have died in the hands of law enforcement on the same day that Sandra Bland, an African American woman who died behind bars, would have celebrated hr 30th birthday.

The date also comes two days after Trayvon Martin’s birthday - he would have been 22 years old. He was shot dead by neighborhood volunteer officer George Zimmerman in Florida when he was 17.

According to killedbypolice.net, 125 people have died so far this year.

Critics of President Donald Trump’s pro-law enforcement stance, and the deletion of the White House website pages on civil rights, fear the number could rise significantly. The Obama administration’s national investigation of police departments and their use of excessive force, as highlighted in Chicago, now has an uncertain future under Mr Trump.

The Washington Post database found that 963 people had been shot and killed by police in 2016. If the death rate of the first five weeks of 2017 continues, there will be a much higher death toll this year than in 2016.

The rate of officer indictions and convictions is extremely low. In December, a judge declared a mistrial in the case of Michael Slager, the former officer who shot dead Walter Scott, shooting him multiples times in the back as he ran away, 

The police officer who arrested Sandra Bland, Brian Encinia, was indicted on perjury charges last month.

There was no indictment in the death of Bland, who was found unresponsive in a jail cell in Texas three days after she had been arrested for a minor traffic violation.

Footage shows Sandra Bland in prison

Less than two years ago, her death at the age of just 28 years old sparked a massive backlash as thousands of people saw the video of her arrest. After failing to use her indicator, officer Encinia was seen to use excessive force as he pulled Bland out of her car, pulled out a gun and said, "I will light you up!" She was unarmed.

In the video, Bland tells him he is being too rough after he slammed her head to the ground.

He said in a statement that Bland had been “combative and uncooperative” during the arrest and she was taken into custody to further the investigation.

Three days later her body was found hanged from the ceiling of her cell by a plastic bin bag, and her death was ruled as a suicide according to a medical examiner report. 

The ruling was questioned by her family.

Encinia faces a $4,000 fine and a maximum of one year in jail. He has been on administrative leave since last summer.

Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, told the press that she had no confidence in the investigation or the justice process.

"I'm angry, absolutely," she said. "That's not justice for me."

Her family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the Texas Department of Public Safety, Encinia and two guards at the Waller County Jail, where Bland had died. They settled for $1.9 million and a federal judge formally dismissed the lawsuit.

Texas lawmakers have introduced the Sandra Bland Act, which has 14 recommendations including increasing mental health and de-escalation training, as well as change the law that allows police officers to jail citizens for minor traffic violations.

"So this, we believe, is just simply a knee-jerk reaction to an anecdotal incident," said Kevin Lawrence, executive director of the Texas Municipal Police Association. 

"It would create bad public policy. It would benefit criminals; it wouldn't benefit public safety."

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