Sandra Bland Case: Update

[Content Note: Police brutality; racism; death; self-harm.]

Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old black woman who was found dead in a jail cell in Texas last week after being arrested following a confrontation with police during a traffic stop, is still officially suspected to have hanged herself with a trash bag, but Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis says that her death "is being treated like a murder investigation. I want fingerprints run. I want...DNA tests run on the trash bag."
He also called for "any other valid scientific testing that we have so we can say with certainty what happened in her cell."

"There are too many questions that still need to be resolved," Mathis added.

The case is being run by the Texas Rangers and is being supervised by the FBI, Mathis said. But local church pastors say they and Bland's relatives believe the case should be investigated by Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Department of Justice.
There is also a petition here whose signers share that belief.

Bland's family has also called for an independent autopsy, which is being done. They are also questioning the dashcam footage, which may be released this week, which her family and local advocates say shows Bland being dragged from her vehicle—a contention disputed by police.

Mathis, the DA who says he will treat the investigation as though it were a murder, also says the dashcam footage shows that "it was not a model traffic stop and it was not a model person that was stopped." He says that Bland was "very combative" with the officer, but the dashcam footage "may not clarify what happened because much of the activity takes place in Bland's car, of which there was a limited view."

"Combative" sure doesn't mean to police what it means to me, if someone can be "combative" from inside their car. No less so "combative" that they must be pulled out of their car and thrown to the ground and have their head smashed on the pavement and a knee pressed into their backs.

Anything less than total compliance is apparently "combative." Which is a pretty unreasonable expectation of people who know that people who look like them have a disproportionately high risk of dying in police custody. You can't make interacting with police a life or death situation, and then expect people not to be afraid of police and ready to fight for their lives, and then translate any self-defense as "combativeness" used to justify the very harm they felt obliged to protest.

This cycle is totally fucked, and the "Good Cops" of "Not All Cops," wherever the fuck they are, need to start speaking out about how it is police who are fomenting this cycle of mistrust and abuse, and thus police who need to stop it. Police are the ones with the power and the responsibility here. And police need to start being accountable for violent escalations, because what human being isn't going to be "combative" when they quite reasonably believe their life might be on the line?

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