Sandra Bland died in a Waller County, Texas, jail cell on July 13, 2015. Although a Harris County Medical Examiner determined the 28-year-old woman committed suicide by hanging, the circumstances of her arrest and subsequent death remain a point of heated controversy.
On Monday, a Texas grand jury ruled Waller County Jail officials and employees were not responsible for the woman’s untimely death. However, the grand jury will reconvene in January to determine whether Texas Trooper Brian Encinia is guilty of any wrongdoing.
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) December 22, 2015
Sandra Bland was stopped by Trooper Encinia on July 10 — for failing to use her turn signal while changing lanes. As evidenced in the trooper’s dash cam video, which was released by the Texas Department of Public Safety, Encinia took Sandra’s information and returned to his cruiser without incident.
Unfortunately, the situation escalated after he wrote the ticket and walked back to the suspect’s car
When the trooper approached Bland’s vehicle, she admitted she was “irritated” about the traffic stop and the prospect of getting a ticket.
After letting the woman speak her mind, Encinia asked her to extinguish her cigarette. When Sandra refused, he told her to step out of the vehicle.
New York Times reports, Sandra Bland refused to open the door or exit the car. In response, the trooper opened the door himself and warned her that he would forcibly remove her from the vehicle if she continued to resist his commands.
After calling for backup, the trooper threatened the suspect with a taser — which convinced her to exit the vehicle.
Although the rest of the incident took place outside the scope of the dash cam, Bland and Enciana can be heard arguing throughout the video.
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) December 21, 2015
Despite the fact that she was initially stopped for a minor traffic infraction, Sandra was ultimately arrested and charged with assaulting a law enforcement officer. In his official report, Texas Trooper Brian Encinia said the suspect physically assaulted him during the arrest.
Three days later, Sandra Bland was found dead in her jail cell. According to reports, she hanged herself using a plastic bag.
According to Waller County Jail records, Sandra spoke with an officer at 7:05 a.m. and said she was “fine.”
Approximately one hour later, Bland used an intercom to ask how to use a telephone — which was hanging on the wall of her cell. Although an officer explained how to use the phone, records prove she never made the call.
At 8:55 a.m. Sandra Bland was found dead in her cell. Authorities later confirmed she hanged herself with a plastic trash can liner. Although the jail staff attempted to perform CPR, it was simply too late.
In stark contrast to the jail’s official record, fellow inmate Alexandria Pyle contends Bland was terribly distraught in the days preceding her death. During an interview with CNN, Pyle said the 28-year-old woman “wasn’t eating” and “was just crying and crying.”
ABC7 reports Sandra’s cause of death was determined to be suicide. However, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis vowed to treat the case like “a murder investigation, in which no stone is left unturned.”
Although Bland’s family questioned the validity of her arrest and the circumstances of her death, authorities have denied any wrongdoing.
On Monday, a Texas grand jury ruled that the Waller County Jail staff was not responsible for Sandra’s death. Next year, the same jury will examine Texas Trooper Brian Encinia’s decision to arrest the suspect and his behavior during the arrest.
Sandra Bland’s arrest and subsequent death will likely remain a point of heated controversy. Although the grand jury determined the jail staff was not at fault, Sandra’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit, which is scheduled to begin in January 2017.