Evidence of suicide mounts in Sandra Bland death

An autopsy report corroborates the official narrative indicating that Sandra Bland committed suicide in her Texas jail cell. Ms. Bland's friends and relatives have called for an investigation of possible foul play.

Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle/AP
Frank Scott turns to leave after visiting a memorial to Sandra Bland on Thursday, in Prairie View, Texas, where he watered a plant he had left. 'She was me,' Mr. Scott said. 'We both moved from the crime of the big city to live in peace' in a small town, he said. The autopsy of Bland, a black woman who was found dead in a Texas jail, revealed no injuries that would suggest she was killed by someone else, authorities said Thursday.

The autopsy of Sandra Bland, the African-American woman found hanged in a Texas jail cell on July 13, suggests that her death was a suicide and not a homicide.

Although Ms. Bland’s family members said that she would not have taken her own life, and suggested that her death may have been a homicide, the autopsy showed that the marks around Bland’s neck were consistent with suicide by hanging, officials confirmed. Her body also showed no signs of injuries sustained during a struggle, a Waller County prosecutor said.

Bland reportedly confessed to jailers that she had attempted to commit suicide in the past, leading some to question why these revelations did not prompt a suicide watch.

“Some critics, including Texas state Sen. Royce West (D), have asked if action was not taken to monitor Bland if she had been deemed suicidal. If an inmate is placed on suicide watch, face-to-face check-ins occur every fifteen minutes, rather than the usual hourly checks,” The Christian Science Monitor reported Thursday.

“Bland’s body was discovered more than 90 minutes after the previous check-in.”

Numerous inconsistencies were also discovered in the booking documents filled out for Bland subsequent to her arrest. Some of the documents reveal that Bland told jail officials she had tried to commit suicide in 2015 after having a miscarriage. Another form filled out by a separate employee at the prison mentioned the suicide attempt but stated that it was in 2014.

Authorities have said the contradictions in the jail documents were due to Bland's inconsistent answers to jailers' questions.

A woman who was in the jail cell next to Bland said that she was emotional and had cried frequently during the three nights she spent in prison prior to her death. Nevertheless, Bland’s family members maintain that she was excited about the prospect of starting a new job and that she would not have committed suicide. 

This report includes material from The Associated Press.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.