Sandra Bland's Alleged Suicide Is Now Officially Being Investigated as a Murder
On Monday afternoon, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis announced the death of Sandra Bland, which was initially ruled a suicide, would be treated "as it would be in a murder investigation." Mathis also said while the Texas Rangers were leading the investigation, the FBI was now supervising it.
"It is very much too early to make any kind of determination that this was a suicide or a murder because the investigations are not complete," Mathis reportedly said at a press conference.
On July 10, police officers pulled over Sandra Bland for failing to indicate before changing lanes in Waller County, Texas. She was violently arrested, according to a passerby's video, after becoming allegedly combative with the arresting officer. She was found dead in her jail cell three days later.
After discussing Bland with those closest to her and those who saw her before she died, including her bail bondsman, Mathis decided her death warranted a thorough investigation.
"There are many questions being raised in Waller County, across the country and the world about this case. It needs a thorough review," Mathis said. "It will go to a grand jury."
Waller County authorities claimed Bland committed suicide by hanging herself with a trash bag, but Bland's family and friend's vehemently deny she would have killed herself.
"The Waller County Jail is trying to rule her death a suicide and Sandy would not have taken her own life," longtime friend LaNitra Dean told WLS. "Sandy was strong. Strong mentally and spiritually."
"There are too many questions that need to be resolved. Ms. Bland's family does make valid points. She did have a lot of things going on in her life for good," Mathis said, according to the Texas Tribune.
In Bland's case, placing her in jail demanded charging her with assaulting a public servant, which would classify her as "high risk." As she was reportedly the only woman in the jail who was regarded as high risk, she was held on her own in a separate cell designated for such inmates.
A dashboard video to be released on Tuesday allegedly reveals Bland to be combative with Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Brian Encinia, the man who pulled her over. However, once Bland was placed under arrest, there were at least two violations in protocol. After her death, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards examined the Waller County Jail's logs and discovered staff were insufficiently trained regarding inmates' health services and the observation rules for inmates were broken.
The country has been using social media to demand a fair and thorough investigation with hashtags such as #WhatHappenedToSandraBland and #IfIDieInPoliceCustody, so many will likely see the District Attorney's recent announcement as a step towards clearing up some of the questions surrounding this case.