Sandra Bland’s life mattered

Although Sandra Bland may have committed suicide, we do not know that for certain. The District Attorney has announced that the investigation is continuing and he has not decided whether she was murdered or she committed suicide. When the Texas Rangers, who are being assisted by the FBI, complete their investigation, he plans to submit the matter to a grand jury.

I have not reached a conclusion, but I do want to comment on why she might have decided to kill herself. If she did decide to take her own life, the manner in which the cop brutalized her and the substantial likelihood that her life was about to be ruined by the criminal justice system may have caused her to take her own life.

The cop claimed that he pulled her over because she changed lanes without signalling her intent to do so. Basically, it’s a bullshit charge that is used by cops and predatory traffic courts to extort money from unwary motorists and it’s difficult to respect cops who are using the law to steal money for parasitic courts. Since this was a non-criminal traffic violation, he had no authority to do anything except issue her a citation and permit her drive away. Instead, he lost his temper when she refused to put out her cigarette and reached for her cell phone to record what he was doing. Then he forced her out of her car by threatening to tase her if she did not get out. He took her to the other side of her car, put her down on the grass and handcuffed her. A witness described him throwing her down and placing his knee against the back of her neck. This was an assault, but he charged her with assaulting him, which is a common tactic police use to justify their use of unlawful force. Then, he took her to jail.

Sandra Bland had been participating in the Black Lives Matter protests. She would have believed that she had no chance to be found not guilty. She would have believed that she was going to lose her new job, be convicted and sentenced to prison. She would have believed that she would never find gainful employment when she finally got out of prison. She would have believed all of those things because that’s the way it is in this country.

Under those circumstances, I would not be the least bit surprised, if she decided to kill herself.

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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.