SANDRA ANNETTE BLAND: A TIMELINE IN THE DEATH OF A YOUNG WOMAN

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

One of the first ten Amendments (Bill of Rights) that was ratified effective December 15, 1791.

Sandra Annette Bland (February 7, 1987 – July 13, 2015) was born in Naperville, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, and was one of five sisters. She attended Willowbrook High School in Villa Park, Illinois, then Prairie View A&M University outside Hempstead in Waller County Texas, where she was a member of the Sigma Gamma Rho sorority. She graduated in 2009 with a degree in agriculture. At Prairie View, she was recruited as a summer counselor for three years, a civil rights activist and she played in a band, as well as volunteering for a senior citizens advocacy group.

SANDRA BLAND

Sandra Bland was a vocal civil rights campaigner. NBC Chicago

She was stopped by Waller County, Texas Officer Brian Encinia for failure to signal a lane change.

She was arrested and taken to jail.

Three days later, she was found dead in her cell.

Using video, news reports, and family statements, here is a timeline of this young woman who had her whole life before her before she suffered her tragic death.

*********************************************************

On the afternoon of July 10, 2015, Encinia stopped Ms. Bland on University Drive in Prairie View, Texas, for failure to signal a lane change.

In a series of events recorded by his police cruiser dashcam, Encinia spoke to Ms. Bland.  heated words were exchanged, with Ms. Bland when she questioned the officer further about the stop as well as to why she had to put her cigarette out.  Encinia became enraged and threatened, “I will light you up!” and he proceeded to remove her from her car. During this time a situation escalated and Encinia pulled Ms. Bland from her vehicle. After he moved them out of the video frame, he placed her on the ground and arrested her.

On the dashcam video can be heard Ms. Bland questioning Encinia for stopping her and what ensued thereafter:

While Ms. Bland was held to the ground, a bystander filmed what he could before being told by Encinia to leave. Arrested and taken to the Waller County jail, Ms. Bland was booked for assault on a public servant.

Due to the controversy over Ms. Bland’s arrest and death, on July 21 Waller County police released dashcam footage of the arrest. Parts of the video appeared to be edited, with images of cars and people appearing on the road, then all of a sudden disappearing from the road, while the audio of Encinia’s voice continued to be heard without any interruption or deletion. A spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) said that irregularities in the video resulted from “technical issues” that occurred when the video was posted. Later, DPS then took down the problem video and replaced it with another version.  [1]

Ms. Bland’s bail was set at $5,000. While her family was attempting to raise the 10% bail bond ($500.00) for her release, the worst was yet to come.

On July 13, 2015, at 6:30 a.m., Waller County police stated that Ms. Bland refused breakfast, and a half hour later, around 7:00 a.m., she was said to have told a jailer “I’m fine.” According to Captain Brian Cantrell, approximately an hour after stating that she was fine, Ms. Bland asked via intercom how to make a phone call. She was told by Cantrell that she could use the phone in her cell with a PIN, but he stated there was no record Ms. Bland had made any call.  Waller County Police stated that at 9:00 a.m., Ms. Bland was found “in a semi-standing position” hanged in her cell.

On July 28, authorities released several hours of video showing Ms. Bland during her jail stay, including arriving at the jail, having her mug shot taken, and making phone calls. § Waller County stated the footage was being released to dispel rumors and conspiracy theories, including that Ms. Bland was dead before she arrived at the jail and that her mug shot was taken after her death.

The next day, shortly after noon, police issued a statement that Ms. Bland had been found dead in her cell, and that they believed she had hanged herself. On July 20, one week after Ms. Bland’s death, authorities released video from a motion-activated camera in the hallway outside Ms. Bland’s cell.  The video has no recording from 7:34 to 9:07 a.m., but shows Ms. Bland’s discovery by a jailer after that time.

An autopsy conducted by the Harris County Institute of Forensic Science concluded that Ms. Bland died through asphyxiation, and classified her death as a suicide.  [2]

Ms. Bland’s funeral was held July 25, 2015 at the DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church in Lisle, Illinois.

Ms. Bland’s family have since filed a lawsuit against the Waller County Jail.  [3]

Investigations are underway by the F.B.I  and the Texas Rangers, an investigative unit in the Department of Public Safety. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat of Texas, and others have also called on Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch to order a Justice Department inquiry.  [4]

Amendment XIV

Section 1.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The Fourteenth Amendment was ratified July 9, 1868.

Two things stand out on what happened to this young woman:

-a traffic stop where a police officer became enraged with violence when all he had to do was give Ms. Bland a warning and let her go, instead of detaining her with harassing questions. Just a simple warning and letting her go, this young woman would not be dead. Instead Officer Encinia questioned, and questioned, dogging at  Ms. Bland in an all-out effort to distress and upset her. His manner was confrontational, debasing, and monstrous and when he told her he was going to “Light you up!”, the first image that came to mind was gunplay, with the body of a young Black woman lying dead on the ground, like so many Black woman in America who have crossed paths with vindictive, God-complex types that this so-called officer showed in his vicious mistreatment of Ms. Bland.

-that Ms. Bland was not put under a suicide watch by her jailers was stupid, unreasonable and callous. Ms. Bland commented to one of the intake officers that she suffered from PTSD and depression from the loss of a child. Anytime an arrested person indicates any signs of possibly attempting suicide in a jail, they must be kept under close watch to prevent them from harming themselves, with at least a 10-20 minute check on that person’s well-being, or at the very least, put in the medical ward or floor of the jail where she can be observed.

None of this was done.

Laws on the books that affect U.S. citizens would blow many people’s minds. That the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments were enacted long ago is no longer a guaranteed protection under the Constitution when you have the United States Supreme Court gutting and ripping apart U.S. citizen’s rights and giving racist and sexist stormtrooper powers to those who have sworn to protect and serve, even when those so sworn to protect show ignorance of the law and commit abuse under color of authority:

Heien vs. North Carolina

On the other hand, in rare times of sanity and clarity, SCOTUS has shown intelligence towards the citizens of this nation in what rights they have when pulled over and approached by an LEO:

Rodriguez vs. the United States

But these decisions in and of themselves are flimsy against the juggernaut assault of police cruelty and abuse. Crumbs thrown to U.S. citizens, while LEOs who trample and destroy the rights of citizens are giving the green light to abuse the office, uniform, and following the laws that they have sworn to uphold.  [5]

A young Black woman is dead all because a so-called officer of the law felt he could run roughshod over her rights as a citizen of this nation.

That she was Black and a woman definitely entered into the equation.  [6]

That he was not man enough to have the balls and give her a warning and let her go left this young Black woman dead.

REFERENCES:

1.  “New Details Released in Sandra Bland’s Death in Texas Jail”. The New York Times

2.    “Sandra Bland’s Death Deemed a Suicide, According to Autopsy”. ABC News

3.    “Sandra Bland Suicide Lawsuit: Family To Sue Texas Trooper Brian Encinia, ‘Others Responsible’ For Her Death, Attorney Says”. International Business Times.

4.   ” F.B.I. Investigating Police Accounts of Black Woman’s Death in Custody”. New York Times

5.    “Sheriff in Sandra Bland Case Was Fired in 2008 After Racism, Brutality Allegations”. The Slate.

6.    “Texas County’s Racial Past Is Seen as Prelude to Sandra Bland’s Death”. The New York Times.

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