Five stories that have North Texas talking: no indictments in Sandra Bland jail death; Dallas mayor welcomes refugees; a fundraiser for Bernie Tiede; and more.
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 Southeast Texas county jail last summer. But prosecutor Darrell Jordan says the Waller County grand jury on Monday reached no decision on whether the trooper that arrested 28-year-old Sandra Bland should face charges. The grand jury will return in January to consider that. Bland, from the Chicago area, was pulled over July 10 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. Three days later, unable to raise about $500 bail, she was discovered dead in her cell. Relatives question the finding that she killed herself. And, before the grand jury reached its decision, her family in Chicago said they had no faith in the grand jury. A judge has set a 2017 trial date for the family’s wrongful death lawsuit. [Associated Press]
- While the Texas governor has been trying to block Syrian refugees from entering the state, Dallas is taking a different stance. Dallas is welcoming refugees, Mayor Mike Rawlings tells The Takeaway, the public radio program. “I’m very proud of the faith-based communities here in the Dallas area and citizens that are stepping up,” Rawlings said in an interview that aired Monday. “The practical matter of this is that refugees themselves do not cause us harm.” Learn more here.
- A fundraiser is being held to help pay for Bernie Tiede’s legal costs. The Texas Tribune reports: “Four years after director Richard Linklater made a dark comedy about Bernie Tiede, a genial East Texas man who killed an 81-year-old woman, the filmmaker and the film's star-studded cast are planning a fundraiser to help pay for Tiede's legal costs ahead of a new sentencing trial. Linklater has sent out an invitation for an ‘uber-private’ and ‘exclusive’ fundraiser on Jan. 8 to raise between $150,000 and $200,000 for Tiede's defense fund. Tiede was convicted in 1999 of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. Linklater’s film, ‘Bernie,’ featured Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey, and was based on a 1998 Texas Monthly article. It portrayed Tiede as a loveable, popular funeral director and church singer caught in an abusive relationship with a miserly wealthy widow.” [Texas Tribune]
- A Texas man discovered $48,000 of his own money. KHOU-TV in Houston reports: “Right now, there's $4 billion in unclaimed property in Texas, from things like uncashed checks, tax refunds and old bank accounts. Most people are owed just a small amount but Bill Zisson found out he had a small fortune with his name on it. ‘It's a Christmas gift,’ said Zisson, referring to the $48,000 he had just received. He had no idea the information was just a click of a mouse away. The Texas Comptroller's unclaimed property outreach program runs the website ClaimItTexas.org.” [KHOU-TV]
- A Texas man has been charged with pretending to be a government inspector to get free cigarettes from a store and then lighting up outside. Bexar County jail records show 30-year-old Chad William Fisher of Cypress was being held Monday on charges of criminal trespass and impersonation of a public servant. Jail records don't list an attorney to speak for Fisher, whose bond was $16,500 following his weekend arrest. KSAT-TV in San Antonio reports Fisher on Nov. 1 stopped at a San Antonio-area convenience store and posed as a Food and Drug Administration agent checking for counterfeit and fraud. An affidavit says a clerk gave Fisher several packs and he went outside and smoked some. He returned later for more cigarettes, pretended to be with the CIA and allegedly tried to steal beer. [Associated Press]
The Associated Press contributed to this report.