Following the July 13, 2015, death of 28-year-old Sandra Bland in police custody, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) says the FBI has now opened an investigation, which will include forensic analysis of videos related to the case. The Texas Rangers are also conducting an investigation.
DPS launched an internal investigation into the traffic stop that lead to Bland’s arrest and the preliminary report found that one of the officers involved in the stop violated department policy (watch video of the stop here):
In the preliminary review of the traffic stop that occurred in Prairie View on July 10, 2015, involving Sandra Bland, we have identified violations of the department’s procedures regarding traffic stops and the department’s courtesy policy. Pending the outcome of the Texas Ranger and FBI investigation into this incident, the employee involved has been assigned administrative duties. At the conclusion of this investigation, any violations of protocols will be addressed.
DPS says the videos will soon be made public. While there was, reportedly, no camera in Bland’s cell, District Attorney Elton Mathis said at a press conference that cameras outside the cell didn’t show anyone entering or leaving her cell in the hour before she was discovered dead. “At no point in the video does it appear that anyone goes into that cell and harms her in any way,” Mathis said. “It appears she had used a trash bag to hang herself from a partition in the ceiling, which was used to give inmates privacy.”
On Thursday, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards cited Waller County Jail—where Bland was held—for not properly monitoring a suicidal inmate and for poor training in handling potentially suicidal and mentally ill inmates. Officers are supposed to personally observe people who been arrested once an hour. And if Bland had presented as suicidal, they should have checked on her every 30 minutes. Waller County Jail was cited in 2012 when an inmate used a sheet to hang himself.