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DALLAS (AP) — A woman whose death in a Texas jail has raised suspicions about the official conclusion that she hanged herself told a guard during the booking process that she had tried to kill herself in the past, the sheriff said Wednesday.

Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith said two jailers interviewed Sandra Bland after her arrest. He said the 28-year-old black woman from Illinois told the second interviewer that she was not depressed but was upset about her arrest, which occurred following a confrontation with a white officer who stopped her for a minor traffic violation.

The sheriff said both jailers who spoke with Bland insisted that she appeared fine when being booked on a charge of assaulting a public servant.

The attorney representing Bland’s family, Cannon Lambert, said relatives had no evidence that she ever attempted suicide or had been treated for depression.

Documents filled out for Bland indicate she had previously attempted suicide after losing a baby. But the booking papers released Wednesday also indicate Bland did not have suicidal thoughts at the time of her arrest and that neither the arresting officer nor anyone else at the jail believed she was at risk.

The documents also contain discrepancies.

One questionnaire says Bland took pills in 2015 in an attempt to kill herself after losing the baby. A separate form filled out by another jail employee says the suicide attempt occurred in 2014. One form indicates Bland had suicidal thoughts within the past year, another says that’s not the case.

Bland was arrested July 10 and was found dead three days later. A medical examiner has ruled her death suicide by hanging. Her family and friends dispute the finding. Texas Rangers and the FBI are investigating. An autopsy conducted by the Harris County medical examiner has been completed and given to Waller County, where officials have not said when it will be released.

The suicide questionnaire also notes that Bland told jailers she had epilepsy and was taking medication for it. But in another document, this one to be filled out by the inmate and signed by Bland, “no” is circled by the question asking if she’s currently on any medication. In a third document, it is checked “yes” that she’s taking medication.

Lambert said the family had no indication that Bland was ever treated for epilepsy. The Associated Press left messages seeking comment for Lambert after the jail forms were released.

It was not immediately clear why the sheriff’s department had not acted earlier to disclose details of Bland’s intake form, whether it was widely shared among jail staff or if it prompted jail officials to take any special precautions.

Bland’s body was found three days later in her cell. Authorities say she hanged herself using a plastic liner taken from a garbage can.

State Sen. Royce West, who attended a Tuesday meeting with law enforcement and other officials to discuss questions surrounding Bland’s death, said Wednesday that the kind of information disclosed on Bland’s intake form should have prompted jail officials to place Bland on a suicide watch, meaning a face-to-face check on her welfare every 15 minutes instead of the hourly checks normally required.

Bland’s death comes after nearly a year of heightened national scrutiny of police and their dealings with black suspects, especially those who have been killed by officers or die in police custody. It has resonated on social media, with posts questioning the official account and featuring the hashtags #JusticeForSandy and #WhatHappenedToSandyBland.

The sheriff said Wednesday that no one gained access to the cell and contributed to Bland’s death.

“My obligation is to run this jail and keep everyone safe,” Smith said.

Bland’s family has said she was not despondent and was looking forward to starting a new job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University.

However, Bland posted a video to her Facebook page in March, saying she was suffering from “a little bit of depression as well as PTSD,” or post-traumatic stress disorder. At least one friend has said she was just venting after a bad day.

Bland’s intake documents were released hours after her family held a news conference in suburban Chicago to discuss the release of a video of her arrest taken from the officer’s dashcam. It shows state trooper Brian Encinia drawing a stun gun and threatening Bland when she refuses to follow his orders.

The roadside encounter swiftly escalated into a shouting confrontation, with the officer holding the weapon and warning Bland, “I will light you up,” for not getting out of her vehicle.

The video posted online Tuesday by the Texas Department of Public Safety shows the trooper stopping Bland for failing to signal a lane change. The conversation turns hostile when the officer asks Bland to put out her cigarette and she asks why she can’t smoke in her own car. The trooper then orders Bland to get out of the vehicle. She refuses, and he tells her she is under arrest.

Further refusals to get out bring a threat from the trooper to drag her out. He then pulls out a stun gun and makes the threat about lighting Bland up.

When she finally steps out of the vehicle, the trooper orders her to the side of the road. There, the confrontation continues off-camera, but it is still audible.

Bland can be heard protesting her arrest, repeatedly using expletives and calling the officer a “pussy.” She screams that he’s about to break her wrists and complains that he knocked her head into the ground.

In response to questions about gaps and overlaps in the originally posted video, authorities said the footage was not edited or manipulated. Tom Vinger, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, said glitches occurred in the recording when it was first uploaded for public viewing, and the department uploaded it again.

The trooper, who has been on the force for just over a year, has been placed on administrative leave for violating unspecified police procedures and the Department of Public Safety’s courtesy policy.


Associated Press writers Terry Wallace and Jamie Stengle in Dallas and Don Babwin in Lisle, Illinois, contributed to this report.

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18 thoughts on “Sandra Bland Indicated Previous Suicide Attempt In Jail Questionnaire

  1. Assata Shakur on said:

    In prisons, it is not at all uncommon to find a prisoner hanged or burned to death in his cell. No matter how suspicious the circumstances, these deaths are always ruled “suicides.” They are usually Black inmates, considered to be a “threat to the orderly running of the prison.” They are usually among the most politically aware and socially conscious inmates in the prison.” — Assata Shaku

  2. Amber on said:

    I think the cop was out of hand but I also think Ms. Bland was out of line as well and sadly her life is gone for whatever reason. I always say when cop stop you, be nice and keep your comments short and leave the attitude at the door. If the cop do something wrong, do the same thing until you get home and then the next day, you report him to the chief (if the chief does nothing, then you go to the Mayor or City Manager). Some of us need to learn to think with our brains and not with our fist and attitude. What is also hard to judge in this case, If this lady had a mental illness, the station should have put her on suicide watch and that may have been the reason for her behavior to the cops.

  3. Monica on said:

    They sure did a lot of interviewing and writing reports on a woman who just made an unsafe lane change. You would have thought she had committed a major crime with all the interrogation…

    • Tammy on said:

      Regardless, doing an unsafe lane change is still against the law and it is up to the individual cop to choose what they want to. They give you ticket or give you warning.

  4. MARK 8:36 on said:

    If Sandra Bland had used good manners instead of bad manners, she would have received a ticket and been on her way. However it appears that she had a different agenda. Sometimes a stunt will back fire.

    • jhuf on said:

      I do agree Mark however there are “do overs” on both sides I’ve seen police dash cam videos where motorist acted far worse than this an the officer just blew it off, yes in this incident if one of the party’s had just “blown it off” this would not have happened

    • Just my opinion but he was supposed to be the professional and I believe that he was pissed off once she said I am waiting for you to do your job, a few moments before he asked her to put out her cigarette. He lied on his report when he said that she was arrested for kicking him or elbowing him. As the video shows a much different picture. Even if she committed suicide so many things were done incorrectly by the officials that lead up to her death. Why did they ask if she had every tried to commit suicide and then not take the appropriate precautions? Had she put the cigarette out I don’t know if things would have turned out any different because he had already moved to the drivers side of the car. Example I got a ticket recently and all of our business was conducted on the passenger side of my vehicle. That is were her took my paperwork and that is where he handed me my ticket from the passenger window. All cops do not handle authority well and that is a fact.

    • True he is the professional however there is a disturbing trend in society these days
      citizens also have a duty to behave in a certain manner as well, people tend to put all the onus on the police, as far as which side of the car to go to I’ve heard traffic conditions dictate that she admitted to one about suicide but not to another,
      as for her putting the cigarette out not deescalating things that’s kind of moot since she didn’t and we have only the fact that she didn’t to go on. True there are cops who shouldn’t be cops but there are also citizens who could use some social refinements as well, as I’ve said previously there is culpability with both individuals here.

      • Guest1 on said:

        I’m sure this was not the first time that he’s given a ticket or a warning and the person got upset. People get pissed off and curse, and then they drive away. He should have just given her the warning and kept it moving. You can’t argue by yourself, so he made it into an argument. She was right, she didn’t have to put the cigarette out in her own car, it was not a threat to him, but by asking her to get out of the car, she would have had to put it out and he knew that. He was picking at her and making an already bad situation worse. I don’t know what the laws in Texas are about insurance, but the first person he stopped in the red car, they didn’t have insurance, and he was more than nice, even walking up to the driver’s side to speak to the person. Yet, with Ms. Bland, he goes right to the passenger side. People without insurance should not be driving, yet he let that person go. Let’s see….person on the road without insurance or changing a lane without signalling? Wasn’t she the only car on the road when he stopped her? Again, police are held to a much higher standard than the average citizen. He should have just gave her the ticket and left, but his ego wouldn’t allow that. RIP Ms. Bland.

      • I understand some of what you are saying. I just thought it was a bit strange that he initially spoke with her from her passenger side window but when he returned he went to the drivers side. Maybe he knew at that point that he wanted to lock her up, and he could not do it from the passenger side. Of course we can only speculate on some of our thoughts because we don’t know. The cigarette, what cops ask you to put out your cigarette if he is simply going to give you a ticket/warning? Because his report was inconsistent with the facts (video) I just don’t believe anything he arresting officer says.
        He started the dominos falling and he will have to live with it. To be honest in this day and time I would not want to get out of my car either.

  5. Vet Mom on said:

    Stephen A Smith (ESPNs First Take) AMEN AMEN AMEN!!! My former buckeye record holding student athlete and I LOVE your show (and PTI haha)! Believe me it hurts my heart that teen intelligent black ladies can be raped murdered thrown in a river or genitals burned by thugs but we march against white officers (I donated to one lady’s Home Going after seeing her poor mother on Nancy Grace)! ALL LIVES should MATTER but sadly these lives don’t make race pimps rich! Years ago I heard O’Malley’s (then Mayor) daughter showed him my oldest daughter wearing his “Believe” hat in Seventeen Magazine so I have a soft spot for the O’Malleys (plus he is correct the Office of the President isn’t a family biz to be passed back and forth)!!!!

    • What does your long-winded comment have to do with the story above? Also, I notice that every time you comment, no matter what the article is about, you talk about your children. You should be proud of your children’s accomplishments, but since we don’t know who you are, it does not mean anything to us. Just stick to the article when you comment.

      • I noticed this too! Maybe tell your child and family how proud you are of them on Facebook! I This article is about an untimely death of a young lady which is a serious article!

      • Guest1 on said:

        I couldn’t agree with you more. If she’s not talking about something off the wall such as this ranting and raving, it’s about how she’s glad she left Baltimore for whatever reason. Yet, praising former mayor and Gov Martin O’Malley. I’m a military transplant stationed here, but from Jersey, and I’m glad you left Baltimore! I’m also a vet and embarrassed for you because I know the military taught you better.

      • I really think she’s bored and lonely. You’re all absolutely correct VET MOM says the same things on every post, how proud she is of her children, she’s glad she moved from Baltimore, and how she donated money towards the two murdered girls, but rarely anything about the article itself. I’m not trying to psycho-analyze her, maybe she would benefit from seeing a therapist, clearly something is going on with her. Ijs.

    • Tammy on said:

      Vetmom, Oh give me a break on the “race pimps” comment. Do not hate folks who bring out and wont live in denial about racism. If you want the so called race pimps to go away, STOP THE RACISM. Like any job, it there is no need for it, it wont exist.

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