The death of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old Black woman found dead in a Texas County Jail while she was under arrest, will now be investigated as a murder.
Waller County’s district attorney, Elton Mathis, announced the change in the case, first ruled a suicide via asphyxiation with a plastic garbage bag, on Monday saying,
Mathis came to this conclusion after talking to Bland’s family and the people who last saw Bland, including a bail bondsman.
Capt. Brian Cantrell of the Waller County Sheriff's Department told reporters that Bland was actually found sitting down and not hanging as earlier reports had stated. He said she died "as a result of self-inflicted asphyxiation.”
Bland was discovered dead on July 13 in a Waller County Jail three days after a Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper stopped her for not signaling a lane change. During the stop, in which Bland might have been threatened with a taser, the trooper allegedly tried to open Bland’s door before Bland reportedly kicked the officer who eventually threw her to the ground. A video of the arrest, shows Bland once she’s apprehended. Bland, audibly in pain, is heard in the video saying, “You just slammed my head into the ground. Do you not even care about that? I can't even hear.”
Mathis mentioned Bland’s behavior during the stop saying, “Sandra Bland was very combative. It was not a model traffic stop. It was not a model person that was stopped.”
But the trooper’s behavior has also been criticized for violating traffic stop procedures. He’s been placed on desk duty.
The Waller County Sheriff’s office released three hours of footage showing the last three hours of Bland’s life outside of her cell, which includes the moment she was found dead. This comes after dashboard video of the traffic stop from the patrol car was leaked today (Mathis said it would officially be released tomorrow.
According to Mathis the Texas Rangers—a division of the Department of Public Safety—are the main investigators in the case under supervision of the FBI.