Sandra Bland died in police custody, and we know about her outrageous arrest —thanks mostly to the internet. Sandra Bland was a 28 year old Chicago-area woman who was found hanged in a jail cell in Texas three days after she was arrested during a traffic stop. Made me think of the McKinney Texas police officer attacking and subduing a 15-year-old African American girl who had been attending a neighborhood pool party that we covered in our last newsletter. We know about both cases thanks to the internet, and the fact that they were captured on video. Unfortunately, video didn’t save Sandra Bland. We can hope the visibility and people’s outrage will force changes in the US.
Bland was stopped for changing lanes without using her turn signal on July 10, 2015. She was arrested after Texas Department of Public Safety trooper, Brian Encinia, escalated the encounter, obvious from the videos which have been released.
They include a dash-cam video from the Texas Department of Public Safety probably in response to the bystander’s video of an off-dash-cam scene which had been provided to a news station. The 9 minute 28 second dash-cam video is available with many articles, including at
much-too-early-to-call-jail-cell-hanging-death-of-sandra-bland-suicide-da-says/ and http://m.motherjones.com/politics/2015/07/sandra-bland-police-dash-cam-video-texas
After Encinia called in the minor traffic issue from his car, he returned to Bland in her car, and started arguing with her. Then he ordered her to put out her cigarette. She argued back. Encinia forced Bland out of her car (on threat of taser) and out of his dash-cam’s range, where a terrible confrontation (or attack) can be heard. A bystander’s video capturing the arrest shows Bland being held down on the ground by an officer, shouting, “You just slammed my head into the ground. Do you not even care about that? I can’t even hear!”
Bland was a 2008 graduate of the Prairie View A&M University in Texas. On the day she was jailed, Bland had been driving to Prairie View for her new job there, starting on July 15, according to heavy.com. Instead, Bland was arrested on July 10, and charged with “assault on a public servant.”
But then what happened? Bland was found hanged in the jail on Monday, 7/13/15, at 9am, and declared dead at 9:16am. There is video of the hall outside her jail cell, of the officer finding her. Had to be doctored.
“A medical examiner report and the county sheriff’s office ruled her death a suicide, but during the three days Bland spent in jail, Bland’s family members said they spoke to her on the phone about posting bail, and that a suicide seemed “unfathomable.” An hour before she was found, Bland had asked to use the phone again, county officials said,” according to Mother Jones article “New Video Shows Aggressive Arrest of Sandra Bland Prior to Her Death in a Texas Jail” at http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/07/sandra-bland-police-dash-cam-video-texas. There are widespread allegations that the dash-cam video had been edited from its original form, as covered in this article from NBC at http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/sandra-bland-death-texas-look-alleged-edits-dashcam-video-n396291
“Encinia, who has been a state trooper for about a year, was placed on administrative duty on [7/17/15] pending the outcome of the investigation, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety, which said that the officer violated the agency’s procedures during the traffic stop,” reported The Washington Post. The Texas Rangers are currently leading the investigation into Bland’s death, with the FBI overseeing the process. The family’s attorney has also asked the US Department of Justice to open a federal investigation.
Bland’s death comes roughly three months after Freddie Gray died from injuries sustained in police custody in Baltimore on April 19, 2015. Gray was 25 years old at the time and unarmed when arrested on April 12, 2015. Video helped publicize his devastating case. Couldn’t save him either.