More than 100 protesters marched from the jail in the small Texas town of Hempstead to the courthouse following the death of a black woman who authorities say hanged herself in her jail cell.
The friends and family of Sandra Bland, a suburban Chicago woman who had recently moved to Texas, protested outside of the Waller County Jail Friday, where Bland was found hanged to death earlier this week.
After spending the weekend in jail, she was discovered dead on Monday morning from what the Waller County Sheriff’s office said “appears to be self-inflicted asphyxiation”. As attention focused on Smith, WLS reported on Thursday that Bland had posted an online video five months ago claiming she was suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Family members and friends insist Bland was looking forward to a new job at her former school and that she gave no indication she was in such an emotional state that she would kill herself.
According to USA Today, the FBI announced their role in the investigation on Thursday after outcry from the family and the public increased over what exactly led to the 28-year-old’s death.
Mathis says there are multiple investigations involving the traffic stop by a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper.
“The details surrounding her death just don’t add up, and this is yet another devastating and sobering reminder that reform to our justice system is needed now more than ever, to ensure that all people are treated fairly and equally under the law”, officials with the Texas Organizing Project said in a press release.
Jailers are also supposed to check on inmates face-to-face at least once every hour.
There were no cameras in Bland’s cell, but Mathis says video from the hallways does not show anyone going into her cell. As she is being escorted to the patrol vehicle, Bland can be heard thanking the bystander who she sees is filming. Asked about reports that Bland kicked the trooper before her arrest, Lambert said: “It’s not characteristic that she would voluntarily and without any sort of provocation strike out at someone”. Among other things, she talked about police brutality and what she said was a calling from God to speak out against racism and injustice. Their recollections and Bland’s own words present a picture of a young woman on the cusp of finding her niche in life, having landed a job at her alma mater Prairie View A&M University. On Friday, demonstrators gathered outside the jail, joining Bland’s family from Chicago who demanded answers. She seemed to be in pain. She was found dead in her cell on Monday.
APPHOTO TXKJ101: This undated handout photo provided by the Waller County Sheriff’s Office shows Sandra Bland.
What do you think happened to Sandra Bland? “I can say that we’ve always had a good relation with the community, and we continue to do that”, Street said. “She really felt that her arm had been fractured”, Needham said, holding back tears.
“At this time, we have no reason to believe that either one of these deficiencies had any part in the death of Sandra Bland“, said Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith in a statement. “I told her I would work on getting her out”. She was arrested and charged with assault of a public servant.
In a phone call Bland made after her arrest, Mosley said she sounded upbeat despite the ordeal. The video shows officers shooting an unarmed and defenseless Zeferino, who did nothing to threaten officers. The family couldn’t be reached Friday to comment specifically on the March video.