Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old African American Texan woman, was found in her jail cell, in Waller County, Texas, on July 13, hanged from a plastic trash can liner. Bland was involved in a controversial arrest resulting from a minor traffic stop, just three days before her death.
A Texas state trooper had threatened Bland with a stun gun before handcuffing and arresting her. The trooper, 30-year-old Brian T. Encinia, violated police procedures during the confrontation, according to state public safety officials. Encinia has since been moved to a desk job while state and federal investigations occur.
On Thursday, a Texas prosecutor ruled Bland’s death a suicide, though many, including her family, believe it to be a homicide. According to The New York Times, Bland had told two jail intake workers on July 10 that she had tried to commit suicide last year after losing a baby. She also mentioned to one of them that she had experienced waves of depression. Despite Bland’s confessions, she was not placed on suicide watch or examined by a mental heath expert, steps that are standard practice in a jail. National experts evaluate that these along with other mandatory procedures were not followed for Bland’s case. State inspectors say that these procedures are in put in place to prevent the tragic result that has happened with Ms. Bland and other inmates who are at risk.
A legal analysis was done to inspect what was and was not legal during the time Bland was held in the Waller County facility. The chairman, of the Senate committee, that oversees Texas corrections, said that the jail where she died, had indeed mishandled her case.
“When we lock somebody up, we have a responsibility to take care of them,” said Senator John Whitmire. “What I’ll be seeking is a review of jail standards, much more than we’ve ever done before. I personally believe it is long overdue.”
The death of Sandra Bland is still being investigated since it has drawn so much national attention. Her death, like many other recent African American deaths that have resulted from police altercations has resulted in an uproar from citizens all over the country.
Information has already been uncovered that Waller Country has multiple procedural violations. Inspectors found that jailers did not meet the minimum requirement of personal inspection once an hour. The jail was cited for the same violation in 2012, after an inmate hanged himself with a bed sheet. It does not seem like anything has been done to fix the issue.
Much has to be done to ensure the safety of inmates.
“We’re trying to be open in this investigation,” Waller County district attorney, Elton Mathis, said at a news conference. “We need to take the most precautions possible. I do wish she would have been on suicide watch. We all do.”
Friends and family of Ms. Bland say that they had no idea she had suicidal thoughts. She was moving from Chicago (where her family resides) to Hempstead for a new job at local college, A&M University. Her job was to start two days after her death, and her family and friends said she was ecstatic about it.
The Hot Zone USA will keep updating as the investigation continues.
The arrest that was caught on tape and posted on YouTube by USA Today can be seen below: