A child holds a sign of Sandra Bland, who died in police custody, during a rally against police violence in New York July 22, 2015.
Evidence from an autopsy on Sandra Bland, the black woman found hanging dead in a Texas jail days after a traffic stop, supports the medical examiner’s initial ruling of suicide, a county prosecutor told reporters on Thursday.The preliminary results also found high levels of marijuana in Bland’s system, although officials are seeking additional tests to confirm when and how much she might have smoked or swallowed, Waller County Assistant District Attorney Warren Diepraam said.”The evidence that we reviewed up to this point supports those findings,” he said of the initial suicide ruling. Bland was pulled over on July 10 near Prairie View, Texas, northwest of Houston, for failing to signal a lane change. After the incident escalated into an altercation between her and the white trooper, Bland was taken into custody and charged with assaulting an officer. She was found hanging in her jail cell on July 13 with a plastic trash bag around her neck.Bland’s traffic stop and subsequent death have been taken up by activists who say the case is the latest example of racial bias and excessive force by U.S. law enforcement.Bland’s family previously acknowledged a Facebook post by the 28-year-old Chicago-area native in which she discussed struggling with depression, but it disputed the suicide ruling. While officials have said they are handling the investigation like a murder probe, they announced on Thursday there was no evidence in the autopsy to support a finding of murder. But the plastic trash bag was being tested further. Diepraam said it was unclear whether Bland ingested marijuana before or after she was jailed. Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith, whose office operates the jail where Bland died, searched her cell for evidence of marijuana and found nothing, Diepraam said.However, he added that the high level of the drug in Bland’s system could have influenced her mood while in jail.
“It is a mood amplifier, so it is relevant in our opinion to determine whether or not marijuana may have played a role in her death as well, exacerbating existing conditions,” he said.Bland had lacerations and abrasions on her wrists that could have been received when she was handcuffed during her arrest, he said. She also had about 30 healing cuts on …Read More