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Autopsy Shows Death of Woman in Texas Jail Cell Was Suicide

  • Molly McKitterick

This undated handout photo provided by the Waller County sheriff’s office shows Sandra Bland, who was found dead in her jail cell in Hempstead, Texas, July 13, 2015.

This undated handout photo provided by the Waller County sheriff’s office shows Sandra Bland, who was found dead in her jail cell in Hempstead, Texas, July 13, 2015.

An autopsy on a woman found hanged in a Texas jail cell after her arrest for a traffic violation shows her injuries were consistent with suicide.

Waller County Prosecutor Warren Diepraam on Thursday released details of the autopsy on 28-year-old Sandra Bland, who was found dead in her cell hanging from an overhead partition with a plastic bag. Diepraam showed photos to indicate the marks on Bland did not indicate a struggle consistent with homicide.

Earlier, the Waller County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook a photo of Sandra Bland’s intake form, filled out when she was booked into the jail. A question on the form asks, “Have you had thoughts of killing yourself in the past year?” The “yes” box is checked.

The questions on the form continue: “Have you ever attempted suicide?” “Yes.”

“When?” “2014.”

“Why?” “Lost Baby.”

Bland's family has said she was not despondent and was looking forward to starting a new job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University.
Escalating Confrontation

Bland was pulled over by a Texas Department of Safety trooper on July 10 for failing to signal a lane change. After a confrontation that escalated into a shouting match, she was arrested for assault.

Three days later she was found dead.

Bland’s family and friends — and a large number of people on social media, where the story has gone viral — have expressed disbelief and outrage over the series of events, especially after the release of a dashcam video that shows the interaction between Bland and trooper Brian Encinia.

The video shows Encinia observing that Bland seems "irritated" as he asks her to put out her cigarette. When Bland protests, "I'm in my car, why do I have to put out my cigarette?" Encinia orders her on the street and opens the door to drag her out when she doesn't comply.

In a part of the encounter that is off camera, Bland loudly accuses the officer of slamming her head into the ground, “all for a traffic signal!”

“It was not a model traffic stop, and it was not a model person that was stopped,” Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said earlier in the week.

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