Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Waller County Police Blame Sandra Bland's Family For Her Suicide

Remember Sandra Bland … the young Black woman from Chicago who was driving through Waller County, Texas when a sheriff's deputy pulled her over for not signaling before making a lane change?

The police officer asked to see her license and registration, which she gave him, and while he was writing the ticket, Sandra, sitting in her car, lit a cigarette. He asked her to put out, and when she told him she was in her own car, doing nothing illegal, he ordered her from the car. When she began arguing he pulled her out of her car, slammed her to the pavement, and threatened to "light her up" with a taser before arresting her for "assault on a public servant." 

For smoking. In her car. While being ticketed for not signaling during a lane change.

Sandra was taken to the Waller County jail, where she was held for three days because she was unable to make the $515 bond; on her third day behind bars she committed suicide.
Now, Sandra Bland’s mother has filed a federal wrongful death suit against the county, the two screening officers at the jail, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the officer who arrested her daughter.

In response, lawyers for Waller County have filed a response to that suit; a 39 page brief that lays the blame for Sandra Bland’s suicide at the feet of her family and friends because they didn’t bail her out of jail before she hung herself:
"Bland committed suicide by hanging herself in the jail cell, using a rolled/twisted plastic trash bag as a ligature, and tying it around the support of a privacy partition in the cell. It is apparent now that Bland’s inability to secure her release from jail — and her family and friends’ refusal to bail her out of jail — led her to commit suicide."
The brief claims the jail personnel “did not have any subjective knowledge of and were not deliberately indifferent to any alleged serious risk of suicide,” and should be held blameless. The brief completely ignores the allegations by Sandra Bland’s mother that Sandra should never have been arrested, never have been detained without a providing her a hearing, and a lawyer to defend her.
"What made (it) illegal was that they arrested this woman and kept her in a jail cell, and there was never a finding that she was a danger to the community. There was no adversarial hearing with a lawyer where that question was asked, let alone answered, and there was no finding that she was a risk of flight. They put this amount of money on her head, and basically said, ‘You will be kept in this cage unless and until you pay this arbitrarily set amount of money,’ without any inquiry into her ability to pay it.” — Alec Karakatsanis, civil rights lawyer
Let me put my spin on it: a woman was stopped for not using a turn signal; while waiting for the officer to write her a ticket, she starts smoking.

This action alone caused the police officer to drag her out of her car, slam her to the ground and threaten to use a taser on her. Then she’s taken to jail and held for three days until she ends her own life.

For a turn signal and a cigarette. And now the police in Waller County say it’s her mama’s fault because she’s too cheap to bail he daughter out of jail?


the dogs' mother said...

very sad.

Michael Dodd said...

Perhaps Republican governors need to start refusing to let Texans cross into their states. Sounds to me like they are dangerous folks!

Professor Chaos said...

Also completely ignoring the fact that this was NOT a suicide. There was nothing in her cell tall enough for her to have hung herself from. There wouldn't have been any reason for a full-sized garbage can to be in a jail cell, what would she have to throw away? The photo of her cell that the police released shows the garbage bag still in the can after she had supposedly already hung herself with it, and she sure as hell already looks dead in her mug-shot.

Helen Lashbrook said...

Sandra should NEVER have been arrested, if she contravened the law by a minor infringement the police should have written a ticket and let her on her way! In prison for THREE days for not indicating while George Zimmerman gets off a manslaughter charge. It's not who you are, it's your skin colour that counts for so many policemen.