Jul 16, 2015 10:21 PM
The Latest: Texas senator asks for video of woman's arrest
The Associated Press
CHICAGO (AP) The latest on the investigation into the death of a black woman who authorities say hanged herself in a Texas jail cell (all times are local):
A prominent Texas state senator has asked the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety to release any video it has of the arrest of a woman later found dead in a jail cell.
Sen. Royce West is one of two African American members of the 31-member Texas Senate.
In a letter, the Democrat from Dallas says the circumstances surrounding Sandra Bland's arrest and detainment "have raised a number of questions for numerous persons, none more than myself."
Bland was found dead Monday morning in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas, in what county officials say the death was a suicide by hanging. Her family and friends have expressed skepticism over the conclusion.
In his letter to Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw, West said he regards the death as "suspicious."
The death is being investigated by the Texas Rangers, which is part of the department.
West noted that Bland's death "comes months and weeks into what seems to be an unabated season of unfortunate police-citizen encounters."
The district attorney for the county where a woman was found dead in a jail cell says he will present the findings of a Texas Rangers investigation into the matter to a grand jury.
Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis' announcement came at a news conference in Hempstead, Texas. He was responding to a question about the importance to the investigation of recently discovered video of Bland describing depression and post-traumatic stress disorder that she experienced.
County officials have said Bland's death was a suicide by hanging in her Waller County Jail cell, but her family and friends have expressed skepticism at the finding.
Mathis said the importance of the video will be determined by the Waller County grand jury because he wanted "the public to have the final say on this issue."
A woman whose death in a Texas jail cell prompted suspicions from family and friends acknowledged in March she was suffering from depression.
Sandra Bland said on a video posted to her Facebook page that she's suffering from "a little bit of depression as well as PTSD," or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Bland apologizes in the brief March 1 message for not posting any videos for two weeks, saying she's been having "depressed moments." She doesn't explain the cause of her PTSD, but says they are things that affect everyone no matter their race.
The Texas Rangers are investigating the death of the 28-year-old, who authorities say hanged herself in her cell Monday in Waller County jail. Her family and friends have said it's unimaginable that she would have killed herself. She recently moved to Texas from Illinois and was due to start a new job.
An attorney for the family did not return messages from The Associated Press on Thursday night about the video.
A district attorney says a woman who was found dead in a Texas jail used a plastic bag to hang herself from a partition in her cell.
At a Thursday afternoon news conference, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said an autopsy found Sandra Bland died by asphyxiation. He also said that although jail video didn't show what went on in Bland's cell, it showed no one went in or out of it from the time she was placed there until a jailer found her unconscious.
Bland's body was found Monday morning in a Waller County jail cell in Hempstead. She had been taken into custody after she allegedly kicked a police officer following a traffic stop.
Sheriff Glenn Smith said jailers had used an intercom to check on Bland less than an hour before she was found dead.
This item has been corrected to reflect that the sheriff addressed when Bland was checked on. Restores dropped word in last paragraph.
A video posted online appears to show the arrest of a woman who was later found dead in a Texas jail. In it, an officer is seen pinning a woman to the ground with one knee.
She can be heard yelling that she can't feel her arm or hear. She asks the officer why he slammed her head into the ground over a traffic violation.
An attorney for Sandra Bland's family says he's been in contact with the person who recorded or posted the video and he believes it's authentic. The Associated Press could not independently verify it. But the images are consistent with information the family gleaned from a jailhouse phone call they received from Bland before her death Monday.
Authorities say she hanged herself. Relatives are questioning that account.
Jasmyne Nicole Franklin refuses to believe that the woman she was best friends with since they met in third grade hanged herself in a Texas jail cell.
Franklin of the Chicago suburb of Streamwood says Sandra Bland was "so excited" when they spoke over the phone a few weeks ago about Bland's new job at Prairie View A&M University in Texas. She says Bland told her the job was "perfect" for her.
Bland's body was found Monday morning in a Waller County jail cell in Hempstead. She had been taken into custody after she allegedly kicked a police officer following a traffic stop. A coroner in Texas has classified Bland's death as suicide by hanging.
The Texas jail under scrutiny for the death of a woman found hanging in her cell was cited three years ago by a state agency for improperly monitoring prisoners.
The Texas Commission of Jail Standards inspected the Waller County jail after James Howell hanged himself with a bedsheet in November 2012. The commission found the jail was not checking all inmates at least once an hour, as required by law.
The Texas Rangers and FBI are investigating the death of 28-year-old Sandra Bland. Authorities say she hanged herself in her cell Monday, though her family says it's unimaginable that she would have killed herself. She recently moved to Texas from Illinois and was due to start a new job.
A woman found dead in a Texas cell after an arrest that began with a traffic stop was outspoken about racism and police brutality.
On her Facebook page, Sandra Bland posted a series of videos of herself delivering monologues she titled "Sandy Speaks." In the videos, Bland describes feeling called by God to speak out against racism and injustice. In a video posted earlier this year, she talks about the power of social media to bring about change.
In place of a profile picture she had posted the statement: "Now legalize being black in America." Her family's attorney confirmed it was her Facebook page.
Authorities say she hanged herself. She was found dead in her cell on Monday. Her family says it's unimaginable that she would have killed herself.
The sister of a woman found dead in a Texas jail cell says she spoke to her by phone after the arrest, which began with a minor traffic violation.
Shante Needham says her sister, Sandra Bland, told her the arresting officer pushed his knees into her back and that she believed her arm was broken.
Needham told reporters in Chicago her sister was "very aggravated" and seemed to be in pain when she called on Saturday, a day after the arrest. Needham says she reassured her sister that she would work to get her released on bail.
Authorities say Bland kicked an officer during the arrest.
Cannon Lambert, an attorney hired by the family, says it would have been uncharacteristic of Bland to "strike out" at someone without any provocation.
Family members of a woman who authorities say hanged herself in a Texas county jail say she gave no indication that she was in such an emotional state that she would kill herself.
Sharon Cooper of Naperville, Illinois, said at a news conference in Chicago that it's "unfathomable" that her sister, Sandra Bland, would have killed herself.
The Texas Rangers are investigating the circumstances of her death. Bland was found dead Monday in a Waller County jail cell in Hempstead, about 60 miles northwest of Houston.
She had been pulled over Friday for failing to signal a lane change and was arrested on a charge of assaulting a public servant.