A three-hour video footage captured from outside the cell where an Illinois woman was found dead was released by Texas authorities on Monday.
The video, which had been taken from a motion-operated camera, shows no activity in the hallway leading to the cell for 90 minutes before Sandra Bland, the woman who was arrested during a traffic stop on July 10, was found dead.
The autopsy reveals that Bland had died from asphyxiation. She had used a plastic trash bag to hang herself from a partition in her jail cell.
The dash-cam video of Bland’s arrest, which will be released on Tuesday, is consistent with the account of the officer who made the traffic stop, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said.
Bland family attorney Cannon Lambert said that Bland, held at a traffic stop, was asked to put out her cigarette before being threatened by a Taser. On being asked to step out of the car, she complied with the officer’s request, Lambert further said.
Mathis said that the dash-cam video offers a limited view of the traffic stop.
The officer in question, Brian Encinia, has been put on administrative duty pending further investigation.
According to The Guardian, on July 13, 7:05 a.m., Bland was “in good health” and told the jailer “I’m fine,” Brian Cantrell of the Waller County Sheriff’s office said. At 7:55 a.m., she phoned a controller to seek permission to make a phone call.
At 8:58 a.m., she was discovered hanging from the privacy partition in her cell, “in a semi-standing position with the ligature around her neck” and her feet on the ground. Officers brought her to the ground and performed CPR.
As reported by ABC News, Mathis said, “This is being treated like a murder investigation. I want fingerprints run. I want…DNA tests run on the trash bag.”
He also asked “any other valid scientific testing that we have so we can say with certainty what happened in her cell” be performed.
“There are too many questions that still need to be resolved,” he added.
While Bland’s death has been ruled as suicide by the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office, it is being contested by her family and friends. Bland’s family dispute the official version of what happened, and are asking that an independent autopsy be performed.
As reported by NBC Chicago, Rev. Jamal Bryant, of the Empowerment Temple AME Church of Baltimore, said, “This was not a case of suicide, but homicide.”
He further said that “there are many questions that must be answered.”
“We are not satisfied with the explanation that she committed suicide,” he said.
“We are in a state of emergency here in Texas. We are not afraid of ISIS, we’re afraid of the police,” he added.
FBI spokeswoman Shauna Dunlap said, “We are monitoring the ongoing local investigation. Once the local process takes its course the FBI will review all of the evidence to determine if any federal criminal laws may have been violated.”
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