The Suspicious Death Of Sandy Bland

Ken AshfordRacial HomicidesLeave a Comment

28-year-old Sandra Bland (also called Sandy).  She was visiting Texas from Naperville, Illinois (a Chicago suburb) to interview for a college job at her alma mater of Prairie View A&M.  She got the job.

On July 10, she tweeted this:

A view hours later, she was pulled over for a routine traffic violation (failure to use her turn signal).  Stories vary, but the police claim she was combative. The story ends this way: Sandy Bland died in a Texas holding cell on or around July 13, 2015:

Sandra Bland was found dead in a Waller County, Texas, jail cell on Monday at 9 a.m. after being arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer during a routine traffic stop, the I-Team has learned. Authorities say her death appears to be suicide. In numerous emails and phone calls to the ABC7 I-Team, her friends and relatives say they do not believe the official version of what happened and say this is a case of foul play in a county with a history racial intolerance.

Here’s a video that surfaced, purportedly depicting Bland’s July 10 arrest:

The full uncut video is here.

Quotes taken from the footage suggested that Bland objected to rough handling by the officer or officers who arrested her, and she’s quoted as saying:

You just slammed my head into the ground. Do you not even care about that? I can’t even hear! … You slammed me into the ground and everything.

statement two days ago about Bland’s July 13 death in custody was published by the Waller County Sheriff’s Office to their Facebook page. The statement confirmed that Bland was arrested on July 10 (purportedly for failing to signal a lane change):

On Monday, July 13th, at approximately 09:00 am, a female inmate was found in her cell not breathing from what appears to be self-inflicted asphyxiation. CPR was immediately started and Waller County EMS notified. She was pronounced deceased a short time later. In order to maintain the integrity of the investigation, the Texas Rangers were immediately notified to conduct the death investigation. The Texas Commission on Jail Standards, Texas Attorney General and Waller County District Attorney’s Offices were notified. The name of the female is being withheld at this time while investigators speak with family members from another state. She was arrested on Friday, July 10th, for Assault on a Public Servant by a DPS Trooper and booked into the Waller County Jail. Sheriff R Glenn Smith states that any loss of life is a tragic incident and while the investigation is being conducted by outside agencies, the Waller County Sheriff’s Office will continue to observe the daily operations of the jail to always look for improvements and/or preventions of these incidents.

Oh.  Sheriff Glenn Smith thinks it is a “tragic incident”, does he?  Well, Sheriff Glenn Smith was fired from his job as police chief in Hempstead, Texas, after racism allegations were made against him and four of his officers, the Houston Chronicle reported.

He was fired in 2008 and elected shortly after by Waller County to be its sheriff.

Daily Kos columnist Shaun King has also reported that there have been other suicides recently at the county jail.

If that’s true, that doesn’t bode well.

LaNitra Dean, a friend of Bland’s, was one of many who told the ABC affiliate in Chicago they were skeptical of the circumstances under which Bland died:

The Waller County Jail is trying to rule her death a suicide and Sandy would not have taken her own life. Sandy was strong. Strong mentally and spiritually.

Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis told the outlet that he didn’t “have any information that would make [him] think [Bland’s death] was anything other than just a suicide.” Thousands of social media users signed a petition calling for the Department of Justice to do an autopsy on Sandra Bland.

A little more on Sandra Bland:


She had degrees. She belonged to a Black Greek Organization. She was employed. And she was about to start a new job.  Does this strike you as someone who would hang themselves in a cell?

Bland’s Facebook page shows that she was active in the Black Lives Matter movement and often posted about police brutality and racial injustice, including in videos she called “Sandy Speaks,” where she opined on race issues.

And about an hour ago:

Chicago media says:

FBI officials tell the ABC7 I-Team that agents are aware of the case and coordinating with local authorities. The Texas Rangers are currently investigating.

“They are monitoring the local investigation until it’s complete,” an FBI official said. That is the standard procedure, she said