*You’ve been warned. What with all the stories of African American people ending up dead after or during alleged confrontational behavior with police; here comes a case that will have the hairs on your arms at attention.
Sandra Bland had everything to live for, yet correctional officers want her family (and the public) to believe she took her own life only days before she was to start a new job.
She is a resident of a Chicago suburb who had drove to Texas to start a new chapter of her life on July 9. But after three days she was arrested for the “assault of a public servant” during a routine traffic stop in Waller County.
And on July 13, she was found lifeless in her jail cell.
They’ve classified the death of the 28-year-old as a suicide. And the cause of death is (listed as) “hanging” or “self-inflicted asphyxiation,” according to what Tricia Bentley, a spokeswoman for the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences in Houston told the Chicago Tribune.
Her family and friends are not buying this at all; and told ABC 7 Chicago they suspect foul play.
“I do suspect foul play,” says Cheryl Nanton. “I believe that we are all 100 percent in belief that she did not do harm to herself.”
“We’re very suspicious and we’re a very tight community and we’re very upset that this has happened and it seems like there’s nothing really being done about it,” says LaVaughn Mosley.
LaNitra Dean, a longtime friend, tells the I-Team that Bland “was a warm, affectionate, outspoken woman” who spoke out about police brutality often on her Facebook page and was critical of injustice against African Americans.”
“Each one of us feels like we lost a part of ourselves and it’s hard, it’s going to be hard for a very long time,” said her sister Sharon Cooper.
Bland was set to start her new job atTexas Prairie View A&M, her alma mater, this month. She was described by her friends as “strong mentally and spiritually,” and was set to work in student outreach.
“The Waller County Jail is trying to rule her death a suicide and Sandy would not have taken her own life,” Dean told ABC 7.
Video of her arrest, obtained by the I-Team, shows several police officers restraining Bland on the side of the road and she is commenting on their harsh restraint saying, “You just slammed my head into the ground. Do you not even care about that? I can’t even hear!” Then, as she is taken into custody, she repeats, “You slammed me into the ground and everything.”
When one of the officers witness a bystander videotaping the incident, he tries, unsuccessfully, to shoo him away.
Bland is heard thanking him for recording.
Bland’s family members point to the altercation, but Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith maintains the young woman was “combative” during her arrest.
Bland was taken to jail and was expected to be released Monday on $5,000 bail. But when a jailer came to her cell to see if she wanted recreation time, Bland was dead. According to ABC, jailers say they saw Bland at 7 a.m. to give her breakfast and again an hour later when they spoke to her over the jail intercom. When jailers came to Bland’s cell and discovered her lifeless body, they applied CPR. She was pronounced dead a short while later.
“I do not have any information that would make me think it was anything other than just a suicide,” says Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis.
In recent days, Bland’s death has set social media ablaze, prompting many to ask:
The investigation has been turned over to the Texas Rangers.
See the video and news report below.