Protest Held for Woman Who Died in Waller County Jail

Questions swirl around Sandra Bland's death

Protesters gathered outside the Waller County Jail on Friday in honor of a 28-year-old woman arrested on an assault charge who authorities say hanged herself in a Texas county jail cell. Family and friends question the official account of how she died.  

"The death of Sandra Bland will not be swept under the rug," the Waller County District Attorney, Elton Mathis, said on Friday about the investigation into Bland's death.

The Texas Department of Public safety has placed a trooper involved in Bland's arrest on administrative duty.

DPS said its investigation revealed violations of department procedures.

More than 100 protesters marched from the jail to the courthouse in the small Texas town of Hempstead, about 60 miles northwest of Houston.

The march led by Houston activist Quanell X covered about half a mile. Demonstrators shouted "No justice, no peace!" and "We demand answers!" Many carried signs.

Sandra Bland, who recently moved from a Chicago suburb to Texas to work at a college, was found dead Monday morning in a Waller County jail cell. She had been arrested Friday in Waller County on a charge of assaulting a public servant.

Family members were shocked by her death and do not believe she would commit suicide.

Videos of Bland's traffic stop and jail surveillance will be released after the FBI inspects them, Mathis confirmed at Friday's press conference.

Mathis said an autopsy found Bland died by asphyxiation and that she used a plastic bag to hang herself from a partition in her cell. He also said that although jail video didn't show what went on in Bland's cell, it showed no one went in or out of it from the time she was placed there until a jailer found her unconscious.

A state senator has asked the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety to release any video it has of Blind's arrest. Senator Royce West said the circumstances surrounding the arrest and detainment "have raised a number of questions."

Her death comes amid increased national scrutiny of police after a series of high-profile cases in which blacks have been killed by officers or died while in custody. Social media posts have questioned the official account of her death.

The Texas Rangers and the FBI have entered the investigation into Bland's death. Mathis said he will present the findings of a Texas Rangers investigation to a grand jury. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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