Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families

15Jul/150

What Happened to Sandra Bland in Waller County, Texas; Chicago Woman and Prairie View A&M University Graduate

Family, friends and other concerned individuals are pressing to find out what happened to Sandra Bland, a Chicago woman who was relocating to Texas after taking a job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University. Sandra Bland died in police custody after a routine traffic stop.


From ABC7 in Chicago...

Friends and relatives of a 28-year-old Naperville businesswoman are angrily questioning her death in a Texas jail.

Sandra Bland was found dead in a Waller County, Texas, jail cell on Monday at 9 a.m. after being arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer during a routine traffic stop, the I-Team has learned. Authorities say her death appears to be suicide.

In numerous emails and phone calls to the ABC7 I-Team, her friends and relatives say they do not believe the official version of what happened and say this is a case of foul play in a county with a history racial intolerance.

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 Willowbrook High School graduate died by "self-inflicted asphyxiation," according to sheriff's deputies, who have turned the investigation over to Texas Rangers. Some family members and friends say Bland was found hanging in the jail cell, but authorities have not confirmed the exact circumstances around her death.

In a press release from the sheriff's department, authorities say they applied CPR, but Bland was pronounced dead shortly after she was found.

Longtime friend LaNitra Dean tells the I-Team that Bland "was a warm, affectionate, outspoken woman" who spoke out about police brutality often on her Facebook page.

"The Waller County Jail is trying to rule her death a suicide and Sandy would not have taken her own life," Dean said. "Sandy was strong. Strong mentally and spiritually."

Waller County Sheriff R Glenn Smith said, through a statement, "any loss of life is a tragic incident."

The statement continued, "While the investigation is being conducted by outside agencies, the Waller County Sheriff's Office will continue to observe the daily operations of the jail to always look for improvements and/or preventions of these incidents."

Wednesday afternoon a small group of Bland's friends converged on the Waller County jail to protest her death. The facility is 50 miles north of Houston. Family members say they intend to bring her body back to Illinois for burial when authorities release it.

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