Prosecutor: Sandra Bland’s death ruled a suicide by hanging

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Credit: Texas Department Public Safety

WALLER COUNTY, Texas – We’re learning new details about the death of a woman inside a Texas jail cell.

On July 10, Sandra Bland was pulled over for failing to use her turn signal by Texas state Trooper Brian Encinia.

During the traffic stop, authorities say she was belligerent and assaulted the trooper.

What started as a normal conversation got testy after Encinia asked her to put out her cigarette.

The trooper wrote that Bland became “combative and uncooperative” and that she was placed in handcuffs “for officer safety.”

“Bland began swinging her elbows at me and then kicked my right leg in the shin,” Encinia said. “I had a pain in my right leg and suffered small cuts on my right hand. Force was used to subdue Bland to the ground to which Bland continued to fight back.”

She was taken into custody for assault on a public servant.

Three days later, she was found hanged inside her jail cell.

On Thursday, medical examiners ruled that Bland’s death was suicide by hanging and the autopsy revealed no evidence of a violent struggle.

Authorities say she hanged herself with a plastic trash bag that was left inside the cell.

Warren Diepraam, the first assistant district attorney of Waller County, released the findings during a news conference on Thursday.

Diepraam said there were no defensive injuries on Bland’s hands, only abrasions on her wrists that were consistent with a struggle while she was handcuffed.

He also said there were 30 cuts on Bland’s wrists, and that scarring indicated the injuries were two to four weeks old.

The only injury to her neck or head was a “uniform and consistent” mark that was consistent with hanging, not a violent attack.

He added that toxicology tests showed that she had marijuana in her system, but could not tell when she had ingested it.

 

“Why is it that a 28-year-old woman who had received two job offers take her own life? Why would she call her mom in excitement about those jobs and take her own life?” Cannon Lambert, the family’s attorney, asked.

On Thursday, CNN obtained a report that showed that guards in the jail violated policies by failing to do timely checks on inmates.

Jail intake forms released to CNN tell two different stories.

In one section, it indicates that Bland said she tried to kill herself using pills in 2014 after losing a baby. In another section, the answer is ‘no’ to the question: Attempted suicide?

In another section, the form indicates Bland answered “yes” to the question “Have you had thoughts of killing yourself in the last year,” and the other says “no.”

On both forms, the question “Are you thinking about killing yourself today,” is marked “no.”

Despite the inconsistencies, the answers should have raised red flags at the jail, according to Philip Holloway, a former prosecutor.

“They should have been monitoring her very closely,” he said. “They should have gotten more detailed medical information … because they were put on notice … that she had a problem.”

It’s a problem that Bland talked about in a video she posted to Facebook earlier this year.

“I am suffering from something that some of you all may be dealing with right now,” Bland said. “It’s a little bit of depression as well as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).”

Her family says that’s news to them.

“I can tell you that we take issue with the notion that she was suffering from depression. She was never clinically diagnosed as this family understands,” said Lambert. “Everybody has hills and valleys, and we don’t know about any medication that she was taking in regards to … depression.”

 

 

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