Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old Black woman from the Chicago suburbs, was found dead under mysterious circumstances in her cell Monday morning following a traffic stop. Police claim Ms. Bland assaulted an officer during the stop, and Bland’s family is claiming foul play after the discovery of her body in a Texas cell.
WLS-TV in Chicago has been covering the story as it continues to develop. Thus far, it appears that Bland, who hails from Naperville, Ill., was in Waller County, Texas to begin a new job. According to the family, Waller County is infamous for its racism against Blacks and question how her death could be ruled a suicide shortly after authorities at the Waller County jail said she was alive as of 8:00 a.m. last Monday morning.
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Bland was pulled over Friday for improper signaling a lane change, according to Waller County Sheriff’s Department officials. They say she was charged with “Assault on a Public Servant” and taken into custody by a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper.
Bland’s friends say she had been with her family in suburban Chicago over the July 4th holiday, and drove to Texas for a job interview at her alma mater, Texas Prairie View A & M. Family members say she got the position and was to begin working in student outreach today.
Sheriff R. Glenn Smith says that jailers saw Bland at 7 a.m. Monday when they gave her breakfast and again at 8 a.m. when they spoke with her over the jail intercom. Smith says she was found dead an hour later. In a press release from the sheriff’s department, authorities say they applied CPR, but that Bland was pronounced dead shortly after she was found.
The cause of death was listed as “self-inflicted asphyxiation,” and now the matter is being looked at by the Texas Rangers office. There were reports that Bland hung herself in the cell, but there isn’t an official confirmation from the county.
Members of Bland’s family and others say they intend to meet in Waller County, some 50 miles north of Houston, to stage a protest. Bland’s body has not been released to the family by the authorities.