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Did the Police Kill Sandra Bland and Try to Cover It Up?

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Did the Police Kill Sandra Bland and Try to Cover It Up?
On July 13, 2015, Sandra Bland died in a Waller County jail cell in Hempstead, Texas. Bland had been arrested three days earlier for allegedly assaulting a police office when she was stopped for a minor driving violation in Waller County.

The death was initially announced by officials as suicide. However, it was later made public by Elton Mathis, a Waller Country District Attorney that Bland’s death is being treated “like a murder investigation.”

28-year-old African-American Sandra Bland had been travelling to Texas to start a new job at a university when a Texas state police officer stopped her for failing to signal when changing lanes. Bland was taken to jail where she was later found dead with a trash bag around her neck. While a medical examiner ruled her death as suicide, her family remain skeptical.

In a news conference, members of Bland’s family and their lawyer said Sandra Bland did not show any signs of depression and was merely excited about moving to Texas to start a new job (2).

Though, despite Bland’s family saying the 28-year-old did not have a history of depression, questions have been raised regarding her mental health. According to Waller County Sherriff, R Glenn Smith, Bland had said during interviews with two officials who processed her entry into jail that she had a previous suicide attempt (3).

Despite this, Bland was never put on suicide watch.

Police Video

A newly released police video of the arrest shows the incident of when the police officer, Brian Encinia, stopped Bland for failing to indicate when changing lanes. The video shows how the traffic violation stop turned confrontational when Encinia ordered Bland to put her cigarette out and to get out of the car.

The video appears to show the officer attempting to physically remove Bland from the car. In the struggle, Encinia shouts “I will light you up” at Bland while pointing a taser at her. After viewing the video, State Senator Royce West said he confirmed that the young woman was indeed threatened with a taser by the officer.

Claims have also been made that the dashboard video of her arrest may have been edited by officials and had certain sections missing. The public safety department was forced to publicly deny this.

In the wake of Bland’s death, activists are protesting that the young woman’s death is another example of police racism and excessive force made by police officers in the US.

Texas authorities released footage of what they say is the chain of events that took place on the morning Bland’s body was discovered in the police cell (4). The authorities claim that a female member of the jail staff noticed something was wrong when she saw Bland hanging from a privacy partition in her cell. The footage shows the female jailer alerting others and running to get help. A stretcher is rushed into the cell and emerges minutes later into the view of the camera with Bland on top of it.

The case has ignited controversy and claims that Sandra Bland was murdered by the police who then tried to cover it up.

Questions Surrounding Mug Shot

Some people on social media have speculated that Sandra Bland was not alive in her mug shot (4).

The anomalies these people have highlighted include the fact Bland is dressed in prison clothes in the photo. When a conventional mug shot is taken, the detainee is pictured in her own clothes at is it taken when she is first arrested.

Others have noted how there is a clear shadow behind Bland’s head on the photo, which suggests her head is touching the floor as she is lay down.

Others have commented on how Bland’s eyes look “lifeless and unfocused” and deviate from conventional mug shots which require detainees to look straight ahead into the camera.

Sandra Bland herself was described by her sister as a fighter for social justice. In April, she posted a video statement on police brutality on Facebook.

Authorities in Waller County Texas have “full faith” that Sandra Bland committed suicide, stating there was “no evidence of a struggle.”

Many questions have been raised about whether Sandra Bland should have ever been arrested. “This whole thing could have been avoided,” said Christopher Cooper, a civil rights lawyer and a former Washington police office.

An autopsy might have concluded that Sandra Bland asphyxiated herself in her cell by making a noose from a plastic garbage bag, but her friends, family and activists are still questioning the role the police played in the 28-year-old African-American’s death.

What do you think? Have you followed this case? Do you find her death suspicious or believe she committed suicide?

References & Image Credits:
(1) Washington Post
(2) ABC News
(3) New York Times
(4) USA Today
(5) Wikipedia: Sandra Bland

Originally published on

  • Kayren

    The State Trooper officer basically pulled her over because of a simple failure of changing lanes. When she pulled over, the officer didn’t explain why he was pulling her over. I’m sure that a police had violate tons of rights of the constitution and Law Enforcement Rules. Amendment #8 states that Prohibits excessive bail as well as cruel and unusual punishment. The officer didn’t state why he pulled her over so he claimed ” He’ll light her up”. 5 times she stated why have she been pulled over in the video footage. That right was violated by police and Sandra knew her rights.

  • Beuna Oates

    Sandra Bland was kidnap when Brian saw out of State License Plates from Ill. Chicago, trooper Brian made a u turn also shows on video camera that is when trooper made-up about the signal, of course she had no time to do so, excuse to give her a ticket and stop her. Why is Brian not arrested in jail for crime that he did and why has not anyone else not figure this one out?

  • Brandon Johnson

    She is definitely alive when the mugshot is taken, you can see it being taken on the video released by the jail. Where is the racism? Can anyone say she would have been treated differently if she was white… I mean for sure, not some thought about how you think she would have been treated? The fact is the officer was within his powers to do everything he did, now he could and should have kept a level head, but losing your temper is not a sign of racism. If you ask someone to step out of a car, and they refuse the next step is to try and physically remove them or threaten use of non-lethal force, which he did. People are getting up in arms over the officer asking her to put out her cigarette. This is common, as it has been used as a weapon on multiple occasions. Before any officer asks you to get out of your car they will ask you to put down anything you have in your hands simply to keep you from throwing it at them or using it to harm them. When she becomes combative the officer had the right and should have asked her to step out for his safety as he doesnt know what she has around her in the car, and when she is out the possible weapons are limited to what she has on her person. The only thing the officer did wrong was lose his cool when she wouldnt comply, which is an arrestable offense, and he tried to calm the situation down after he realized he went over the top. It was Bland who wouldnt let things calm back down and continued to raise the intensity of the situation. Her behavior was awful, and I suspect it had to do with her activist work and her extreem dislike of law enforcement as evident in her you tube videos and facebook postings. In the end this event was totally avoidable for her, and if she had swallowed her pride like the rest of us she would have made her interview and still be alive. Well, at least made the interview. By all accounts and evidence her death was a suicide, I know her family thinks otherwise but they seem to be blinded by every families disbelief their daughter/sister would do that. The first step in grief is denial for a reason…

    Every one of us wants to argue with the police officer when we get in trouble, same with parents, but we have learned that doing so will only make things worse. When you get in trouble at home you know you sit/stand quietly while you are lectured, take your punishment without complaint, and live to see another day. Back talking, whining, arguing, or anything else that delays this process only intensifies the punishment. Dealing with cops is no different, they are the authority, you cuss and cry when its all done, then when the other parent (judge) gets home you complain to them. Complaining to the person who caught you doing something wrong in the first place gets you nowhere.

    The notion that someone else killed her to cover something up is equally ridiculous as it is not based on facts. The fact is that no one entered her cell, so unless someone dug a tunnel or they have a ghost that can kill people, it wasnt a murder. Besides, why would they? I mean there is no reason to kill her, I mean besides the ghost who doesnt need one. The cop was going to have the video come out in court anyway, she could get a copy and put it on the internet. No one in the jail worth killing over that we know of, even if they did no one went in to the cell when she was being hung. There isnt any evidence that supports a murder happened while there is every reason short of a suicide note to believe she killed herself.

    To the jail… They did several things wrong, but I am not convinced that any of them led to her suicide. They shouldnt have had that huge garbage can in there, but it wouldnt have caused issue for someone who wasnt suicidal. Bland had said she tried to commit suicide in the past, but she said she wasnt suicidal right now. Jails all over the country would have 1/4 of their inmates on suicide watch for no reason if they just went by what you have done in the past. I have done a lot of things in the past I wouldnt think about doing today, and I would raise cain if someone treated me a certain way because of what I had done in my past. They would open themselves to all sorts of lawsuits if they put everyone on suicide watch who had done something in their past. Suicide watch is basically taking away certain freedoms and luxuries, can you honestly tell me the same people who are upset about her not being on suicide watch wouldnt be just as upset if she was on it and didnt try to kill herself? Which leads me to my last point… (Thank goodness, right?)

    No matter what a jail does short of strapping you to a bed to where you cant move, feeding you through a tube, hydrate you through an IV, take away your showers and rec time, and keep you that way until you got out would prevent a suicide. All a jail can do is limit the opportunities and the ways you can do it. If a person has reached the point where they are willing to take their own life, the only thing holding them back is their imagination. If she hadnt used the trash bag she would have used the sheets. If she didnt have sheets she would have drowned herself in the sink or toilet. She could have jumped off something to land on concrete with her head, she could have simply leaned up against something with her neck to cut the blood supply off, she could have poisoned herself by drinking too much water, she could have hit her head against the wall repeatedly or just one running start, she could have found a piece of the metal bed and cut herself, she could have dug her nails into or bit her wrists to cut the arteries/veins, she could have done a bunch of things that would have resulted in her death. Could the jail have recognized that she may injure herself and made it harder to do so? Absolutley, but is it their fault? No. Its like saying its Lowes fault that I hit my thumb with the hammer I bought from them. Well I did it, but they shouldnt have sold it to me. Its like blaming the officer who put her in jail for her killing herself, oh wait, her family and others are… Ridiculous. When are we going to stop blaming others for everything and anything that goes wrong? You know what, sometimes someone else puts us in a bad spot, but usually its something we did to ourselves. Take responsibility, the officer didnt bully her to committing suicide, her interactions with him were done until the court hearing, even then it would be minimal. The jail didnt cause her suicide, they just didnt prevent it. How can you prevent something you dont know will happen? I believe she realized how much trouble she was in over something stupid. It had the possibility to ruin her life as she already missed her interview and likely wouldnt have gotten the job if she was accused/convicted of a felony. It would also make finding a job in the future much harder. This on top of whatever else was going on with her life led to her giving up. You also cant ignore her involvement in Black Lives Matter as a possible reason for her suicide. If she was thinking about it anyway, she could have thought that it would be another death to protest over. She may not have known they had cameras on her cell, and figured that if she was going to die she would do it to help the cause she was working for by giving them another death by police to add as evidence of systemic racism they keep on bringing up. Theres no evidence to support any of that, but their is no evidence of systemic racism either (more whites are killed by cops than blacks and black populations in prison is directly connected to percentage of crimes committed by blacks… But thats another comment for another day). If that was her intention, even with a camera proving no one went in there, it worked like a charm. Thinking someone will hurt themselves isnt absolute, it differs from one person to the next. One jailer might have thought she was distraut but had a good head on her shoulders, another might have seen she was having a hard time yet knew she was a strong woman, by all accounts she had a lot to live for, so how does the family hold someone else accountable for thinking good thoughts about Sandra and believing the same things they did?

  • Treep

    She even said she was wanting to go to court. She was completely in her own rights. The cop did not have any athority to drag her out of the car. She only got out after being threatened at gun point. Male cops arent even leagely alowed to man handle women the way he did. (I would even like to point out the difrence of how he handled the white person he pulled over a minute earlier, he completly changed when he got to sandra bland). I completely believe foul play was at hand. This cop would definitely be in trouble for how he handled this situation if they made it to her court hearing… yet that never happened! Also its reported 3 to 4 other black women were found dead in jail cells 17 days after her incident. She did not seem like the suicidal type. However that cop got very agresive and even pulled a peice on her for not fallowing his derections. So how do you think he would have handled her back at the jail house. He was very aggressive and very adament about how things were going to happen. Stating that he was the law and she “had” to do what he said! She had rights which were blatantly ignored by the officer. Once again i would say foul play was at hand. I would even pull finger prints off the bag that was the cause of death, that is if they havent already desposed of that item immediately. I belive we need reform cops are out of control. This should have never happened. And it all happend over failing to signal, how big of a ticket would that have been anyways. Definatly not as much as her own life that is for sure

  • Treep

    I also like how he took her off camera while he did whatever he wanted to. I highly doubt she kicked him, unless a stray leg got him as he was throwing her to the ground. This video remindes me of that other cop who repetidly smashed that poor 14 year old black girls head into the pavement while she screamed for someone to get her mom. At the pool party where the white people were unsettled by the black children at there pool.

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