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Bland injuries consistent with suicide, official says

This screen capture shows Texas state trooper Brian Encinia (left) next to the car as Sandra Bland, 28, gets out of her vehicle following a traffic stop for allegedly failing to signal a lane change earlier this month.AFP PHOTO / TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY

HEMPSTEAD, Texas — The autopsy of a black woman who was found dead in a Texas jail revealed no injuries that would suggest she was killed by someone else, and the marks around her neck were consistent with a suicide, authorities said Thursday.

Waller County prosecutor Warren Diepraam said the autopsy showed that 28-year-old Sandra Bland had no defensive injuries on her hands that would typically indicate a struggle.

Some lacerations or abrasions were found on her wrists. Those were consistent with a struggle while being handcuffed.

Bland was arrested in a traffic stop three days before she was found hanging in her jail cell on July 13. Her family and friends dispute the official finding that she killed herself.


Texas Rangers and the FBI are investigating.

Also Thursday, the woman’s sister confirmed that Bland had taken prescription medication for seizures in the past.

Booking documents filled out for Bland after her arrest indicate she told staff at the jail that she had epilepsy and was taking medication for it. Other forms, however, say she was not taking medication.

Sharon Cooper told The Associated Press that her sister suffered from seizures about a decade ago but had not had any in recent years and was not on medication.

One jail-intake questionnaire says Bland took pills in 2015 in an attempt to kill herself after losing a baby. A separate form filled out by another jail employee says the suicide attempt occurred in 2014.

Cooper says her sister had a miscarriage in May 2014, but got through it. Cooper also says she was not aware of any suicide attempt.

Preliminary autopsy results also showed that Bland had marijuana in her system and about 30 cuts on her wrist that were probably self-inflicted in the weeks before her arrest.

The drug-test results are worth noting because they could be ‘‘relevant to her state of mind,’’ Diepraam said.


Authorities said any contradictions in the jail documents were the result of Bland’s inconsistent answers to jail officials’ questions about suicide attempts or medication.

One form indicates Bland had suicidal thoughts within the past year. Another says that’s not the case.

Some of the documents also indicate Bland also told jail officials she was taking the anti-epileptic drug Keppra. On another that contains Bland’s signature, ‘‘no’’ is circled by the question asking if she’s currently on any medication.

Bland’s death comes after nearly a year of heightened national scrutiny of police and their dealings with black suspects, especially those who have been killed by officers or die in police custody. It has resonated on social media, with posts questioning the official account and featuring the hashtags #JusticeForSandy and #WhatHappenedToSandyBland.

Bland’s family has said she was not despondent and was looking forward to starting a new job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University.

However, Bland 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. At least one friend has said she was just venting after a bad day.

A video of her arrest taken from the officer’s dashcam shows state trooper Brian Encinia drawing a stun gun and threatening Bland when she refuses to follow his orders.

The roadside began when the trooper stopped Bland for failing to signal a lane change. The encounter swiftly escalated into a shouting confrontation, with the officer holding the weapon and warning Bland, ‘‘I will light you up,’’ for not getting out of her vehicle.


The conversation turns hostile when the officer asks Bland to put out her cigarette and she asks why she can’t smoke in her own car. The trooper then orders Bland to get out of the vehicle. She refuses, and he tells her she is under arrest.

Further refusals to get out led the trooper to threaten to drag her out. He then pulls out a stun gun.

Houston television station KTRK-TV released a voicemail that Bland left a friend, LaVaughn Mosley, while in jail in which she expressed disbelief at her circumstances.

In the message, Bland calmly said she’s ‘‘still just at a loss for words honestly at this whole process.’’ She wondered, ‘‘How did switching lanes with no signal turn into all of this?’’

The Department of Public Safety trooper, who has been on the force for just over a year, has been placed on administrative leave for violating unspecified police procedures and the department’s courtesy policy.

Watch video of the traffic stop below (begins at 2:00 minute mark; warning: graphic language)