Sandra Bland’s family requests independent autopsy

Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old black woman, died in the Waller County Jail in Texas on July 13th, three days after she was pulled over in a routine traffic stop by a police officer who subsequently charged her with assaulting him. She was found with a plastic garbage bag wrapped around her neck. State officials have listed her cause of death as a suicide.

Her family does not believe that she committed suicide because she had just been hired to begin a new job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University. They have requested an independent autopsy.

The Houston Chronicle at reports,

At a news conference, [Jamal] Bryant, a pastor at the Empowerment Temple AME Church in Baltimore, said the footage, which had been shown to Bland’s relatives and their lawyer, but which has not yet been released publicly, showed the DPS trooper stopping her, walking to her car, and then speaking to her while she smoked a cigarette.

The trooper, 30-year-old Brian Encinia, told her to put it out, and she refused, Bryant said.

Bland began videotaping the stop with her cell phone, which enraged the trooper, Bryant said.

“You can’t see at any point where Bland attacks the officer,” Bryant said.
DPS officials have said that during the stop, Bland became “uncooperative” and kicked the officer. She was arrested and charged with assault of a public servant.

Cannon Lambert, a Chicago-based attorney representing the family, said Sunday on a Washington D.C. radio show that Encinia tried to pull Bland from the car when she reached for her cell phone. When that didn’t work, he pulled out a TASER and pointed it at her, and she voluntarily got out of the car, he said.

Trooper Encinia has been placed on administrative leave after a preliminary review found he had violated department procedures and the agency’s courtesy policy.

In addition, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards has criticized the Waller County Jail for failing to comply with state standards regarding staff training and observations.

The family has also asked the Department of Justice to investigate her death.

Sandra Bland was 28-years-old.

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Frederick Leatherman

Frederick Leatherman

I am a former law professor and felony criminal defense lawyer who practiced in state and federal courts for 30 years specializing in death penalty cases, forensics, and drug cases.

I taught criminal law, criminal procedure, law and forensics, and trial advocacy for three years after retiring from my law practice.

I also co-founded Innocence Project Northwest (IPNW) at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle and recruited 40 lawyers who agreed to work pro bono, assisted by law students, representing 17 innocent men and women wrongfully convicted of sexually abusing their children in the notorious Wenatchee Sex Ring witch-hunt prosecutions during the mid 90s. All 17 were freed from imprisonment.