BREAKING: Another African American woman is killed after an encounter with law enforcement.
Sandra Bland of Naperville, Ill was found dead in the custody of Texas police. Her death was classified as a suicide by “self-inflicted asphyxiation.” The twenty-eight year old college graduate had traveled to Texas on July 9, to interview for a student outreach position at her alma mater, Prairie View A & M University. She was offered the job.
On July 10, she was stopped by Waller County police for a minor traffic violation — failing to properly signal a lane change.
The sheriff’s department official report claims that during the stop Bland became combative, which escalated the encounter. She was arrested and charged with “assaulting a public servant.”
However, video footage of the incident betray this story.
With a knee in her back, we hear Bland asking officers if they care about slamming her head into the ground, complain about her hearing, and thanking the person recording the incident.
Moments later, the recorder is told to leave the scene, just before the officers escort Bland to the patrol car, as she, again, thanks him for “getting all this.”
One witness, Malcolm Jackson, a friend of Bland’s, told ABC that police were “forceful” during the entire altercation. “After” he went on “he pulled her out of the car, forced her and tossed her to the ground, knee to the neck, and arrested her.” [My italics]
After waiting close to three days in the Waller County jail for her family to post $5,000 bail, Bland was found dead on July 13, at 9.m. Elton Mathis, Waller County D.A., speaking with ABC 7, said “I do not have any information that would make me think it was anything other than just a suicide.”
But, Bland’s bemused family immediately disputed the cause of death issued in the press release, contending that Bland, a strong advocate against police brutality and proponent of BlackLivesMatter movement, would never take her own life.
Other friends have already begun to voice their suspicions.
LaVaughn Mosley told ABC 7 “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.”
While many of the recent, national high profile cases of police brutality against Blacks focus on men, the death of Sandra Bland is consistent with the killing of countless Black women at the hands of American law enforcement, which include Tanisha Anderson, Miriam Carey, Yvette Smith, Natasha McKenna, Rekia Boyd, Mya Hall, Shelly Frey, and several others.
Their exclusion from the nationwide discussion of anti-Black police brutality spawned the #SayHerName.
Reports have already begun to surface that Sheriff Smith was previously fired from a law enforcement agency for racist behavior, and serve as the pivot of the #JusticeforSandra and #SandraBland hitting Twitter.
ABC 7 reports that Texas rangers are investigating the circumstances behind this tragedy.
Currently, the family is in the process of returning her body to Illinois for burial.
Check back with Wear Your Voice for updates on this unfolding story.