Questions about the treatment of black Americans has yet again come to the fore after a 28-year-old woman was discovered dead after she spent a weekend in a Texas jail.
On July 10, Sandra Bland, the deceased victim, was pulled over by the Texas authorities for improper lane change. She was subsequently arrested by a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper on grounds of assaulting a public servant.
Malcom Jackson, Bland’s friend, said, “After [the trooper] pulled her out of the car, forced her and tossed her to the ground, knee to the neck, and arrested her.”
Having spent the weekend in jail, she was found dead Monday morning. The Waller County Sheriff’s office says that the cause of her death “appears to be self-inflicted asphyxiation,” or suicide by hanging, as reported by BBC.
However, the claims made by the Sheriff’s office has been criticized by Bland’s family, who disagree that she died as a result of suicide. They are working to look into the circumstances surrounding Bland’s death. Her friends and relatives maintain that it is a case of foul play, and that they are not convinced by the official version of what is being said happened.
Cheryl Nanton says, “I do suspect foul play. I believe that we are all 100 percent in belief that she did not do harm to herself.”
LaVaughn Mosley says, “We’re very suspicious and we’re a very tight community and we’re very upset that this has happened and it seems like there’s nothing really being done about it.”
Bland was going to begin a job at her alma mater of Prairie View A&M University on August 3.
In a video of Bland’s arrest – captured by a bystander – the victim can be seen pinned to the ground with the police on top trying to restrain her. Bland is asking the officers why they are being so rough with her.
The police can be heard in the video ordering the bystander capturing the footage to leave, as reported by ABC7Chicago.
Bland is heard saying, “You just slammed my head into the ground. Do you not even care about that? I can’t even hear!”
Consequently, when she is arrested, she can be heard, saying, “You slammed me into the ground and everything.”
In a statement, a lawyer for the Bland family said, “The family of Sandra Bland is confident that she was killed and did not commit suicide. The family has retained counsel to investigate Sandy’s death.”
Several people took to social media, expressing their outage. #SandraBland became a trending topic on Twitter.
People killed by police from Jan 1-July 16:
605 killed in 2013.
625 killed in 2014.
629 killed in 2015.
It's getting worse. #SandraBland
— Samuel Sinyangwe (@samswey) July 16, 2015
The Texas Rangers are also working to investigate Bland’s death, Waller County Sheriff’s office said.
Longtime friend LaNitra Dean said such type of treatment was something Bland often spoke against.
“She spoke out about this type of stuff in her life, and now in her death, she’s a hashtag,” Dean said. “That’s very hard to put that in perspective. I think, that could have been me. How many times have I driven through Waller?”
Dean criticized the police and the jail of negligence that resulted in Bland’s death. She expressed her fear that Bland’s family and friends may not find out the truth about Bland’s death unless a federal investigation is conducted into the matter.
Dean also said she fears crossing through Waller County in light of Bland’s fate.
“I’m afraid every day of my life,” she said.
But, she said, “It’s all around this country. It’s places like Waller that scares us, but it’s everywhere. There’s a deep-rooted fear.”
A Change.org petition is asking that an independent autopsy be performed.
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