Sandra Bland: Questions Surround Death of Black Woman in Police Custody

Questions surrounding the death of Sandra Bland, who was found dead on Monday morning in a Texas jail cell, are mounting. Police officers are calling her death a suicide, but Bland’s family and friends are skeptical. 

Sandra Bland, 28, was arrested last Friday near Houston after she was pulled over for an improper signal and lane change. According to officers, Bland was combative and assaulted a police officer during the stop. Police officers say they attempted to restrain her. Witness video shows Bland on the ground with multiple officers surrounding her, and one is kneeling on her back. Bland can be heard saying, “You just slammed my head into the ground. Do you not even care about that? I can’t even hear,” and before she is placed in the squad car and taken to a local jail, she thanks a man for recording the arrest. 

On Monday morning, another woman who was also in police custody found Bland unresponsive in her cell. Authorities say that they performed CPR and called for medical assistance, but Bland was pronounced dead at the scene. Guards say that Bland was last seen earlier that morning at breakfast. 

According to the autopsy report released on Tuesday, Bland died from “self-inflicted asphyxiation.” The death was ruled a suicide, but the friends and family members of Bland do not believe it. 

“The Waller County Jail is trying to rule her death a suicide, and Sandy would not have taken her own life,” said LaNitra Dean, a long-time friend of Bland’s, to ABC News. “Sandy was strong mentally and spiritually.”

Bland had recently moved to the Houston area after she got a job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University. In recent months, she had been active in the Black Lives Matter movement, posting videos on social media where she voiced her opinion on racial injustices. 

An online petition has launched calling for the Department of Justice to investigate the case. A rally is planned tomorrow afternoon at the Waller County Sheriff’s Office. Texas rangers are currently investigating the case. 

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