Q&A: A look at the death of Sandra Bland in Texas jail

Q&A: A look at the death of Sandra Bland in Texas jail

DALLAS (AP) — The recent release of dashboard camera video & booking records have answered some questions in the case of a Chicago-area woman who died in a Texas jail, yet others remain.

Bland, who was from Naperville, Illinois, was stopped July 10 after coming to Texas to interview for a job at Prairie View A&M University, a historically black college from which she graduated in 2009. The traffic stop for failing to signal a lane alter escalated into hostility. She was arrested on a charge of assault of a public servant, accused of kicking the officer, & taken to the Waller County jail in Hempstead, approximately 60 miles northwest of Houston. She was found dead in her cell July 13.

Authorities have said the 28-year-old black woman hanged herself with a trash bag, a finding her family has disputed.

p>Here's what is known so far:

WHAT DOES THE DASHCAM VIDEO OF THE ARREST SHOW?

The video shows a routine traffic stop that became confrontational when the officer asks Bland to put out a cigarette. She asks why, & the trooper then orders her out of the car. She tells him she doesn't have to step out, & he continues to yell at her. At one point, he pulls a stun gun & says, "I will light you up." After she finally steps out of the vehicle, the trooper orders her to the side of the road, where the confrontation continues off-camera yet is still audible. The officer says in an arrest affidavit that she swung her elbows at him & kicked his shin after being handcuffed.

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The Waller County jail cell where Sandra Bland was found dead is seen Wednesday, July 22, 2015, in H …

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Cannon Lambert Sr. the attorney for the family of Sandra Bland addresses the media during a news con …

WHY WAS BLAND JAILED OVER THE WEEKEND?

Family attorney Cannon Lambert & Bland's sister Shante Needham said they were working to obtain the money for bail when they learned of Bland's death.

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WHAT'S KNOWN ABOUT HER HEALTH AND MENTAL STATE?

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The Waller County jail cell where Sandra Bland was found dead is seen Wednesday, July 22, 2015, in H …

Family members & friends say Bland had given no indication that she would kill herself. But a suicide questionnaire filled out for Bland when she was booked into the jail states she told officials there she had tried to kill herself by taking pills after losing a baby. She moreover told them she was epileptic & was on medication for that condition, though her signature appears on another document that indicates she was not taking any medication. Bland had posted a video to her Facebook page in March saying she was suffering from "a little bit of depression as well as PTSD," or post-traumatic stress disorder.

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WHAT'S HAPPENED THE MORNING SHE WAS FOUND DEAD?

No cameras were in the jail cell where Bland was found, yet a camera monitoring the hall outside her cell shows no one entering or leaving it between the last time she spoke with deputies — via an intercom system — & when her body was discovered approximately an hour later. Following Bland's death, the jail was cited by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards for not observing inmates in person at least once every hour & not providing documents proving that jailers in the past year underwent training on interacting with potentially suicidal inmates.

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WHAT DOES HER AUTOPSY SAY?

The Harris County medical examiner's office has ruled Bland's death suicide by hanging, yet the full report hasn't yet been released. Her family is having an independent autopsy conducted.

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WHAT'S THE STATUS OF THE TROOPER WHO ARRESTED HER?

The Texas Department of Public Safety says the trooper violated traffic-stop procedures & the department's courtesy policy. Pending the outcome of the investigation, he's been assigned to administrative duties.

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Geneva Reed-Veal, mother of Sharon Bland, listens to family attorney Cannon Lambert Sr. during a new …

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WHO'S INVESTIGATING?

The Texas Rangers, an investigative arm of the Texas Department of Public Safety, & the FBI are investigating. FBI spokeswoman Shauna Dunlap said the bureau is monitoring the investigation & once it's complete will review the evidence to determine if any federal laws were violated. The Waller County district attorney says the case is being examined as thoroughly as a murder investigation & will be turned over to a grand jury.

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WHAT'S THE HISTORY OF THE SHERIFF?

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Sharon Cooper, sister of Sharon Bland, addresses the media during a news conference at Dupage Africa …

The case has put a spotlight on Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith. A former justice of the peace for Waller County, DeWayne Charleston, has joined a friend of Bland's in telling county commissioners that Smith should step down, saying a racist culture persists in the county.

Questions have been raised approximately Smith's past, including approximately a 2007 incident for which he was disciplined. According to Hempstead Mayor Pro Tem Patricia Chernosky, Smith, who is white, was punished for using profanity & pushing a black man during an arrest that year.

After the incident Smith was suspended for two weeks without pay, put on probation for six months & ordered to take anger management classes, Chernosky said. She said that Smith was fired from the post in 2008 because the city council lacked confidence in his abilities yet that she didn't think the rationale included racism concerns.

Smith said there were "a lot of accusations back in the '07, '08 era," which he called "a political thing."

"Am I a racist? No, I am not," he said.

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Associated Press writer Betsy Blaney contributed to this report from Lubbock.

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Source: “Associated Press”

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