Sandra Bland of Naperville, was found dead in a Waller County, Texas, jail cell on Monday at 9 a.m. after being arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer during a routine traffic stop. Authorities say her death appears to be suicide.
Speaking to ABC7 I-Team, her friends and relatives say they do not believe the official version of what happened and say this is a case of foul play in a county with a history racial intolerance.
The relased footage shows police on top of Bland, who is on the ground with several officers restraining her as she questions why they are being so rough. The video was shot by a bystander Friday morning, three days before she died in police custody.
Bland was pulled over last week for improper signaling a lane change, according to Waller County Sheriff’s Department officials. They say she was charged with “Assault on a Public Servant” and taken into custody by a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper.
“After he pulled her out of the car, forced her and tossed her to the ground, knee to the neck, and arrested her,” says her friend Malcom Jackson.
According to her family, she had been with her family in suburban Chicago over the July 4th holiday, and drove to Texas for a job interview at her alma mater, Texas Prairie View A & M. Family members say she got the position and was to begin working in student outreach today.
At one point in the video an officer can be heard telling the person filming to leave.
In the video he shot, Bland is heard saying, “You just slammed my head into the ground. Do you not even care about that? I can’t even hear!”
Then, as she is taken into custody, she repeats, “You slammed me into the ground and everything.”
A lawyer representing the Bland family released a statement via the Chicago Tribune saying, “The family of Sandra Bland is confident that she was killed and did not commit suicide. The family has retained counsel to investigate Sandy’s death.”
Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith says Bland “had been combative on the side of the road.”