Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old businesswoman, was found dead in a Texas jail cell on Monday just days before she was to start a new job.
While officials in Waller County classified Bland’s death as a suicide, her friends and family aren’t convinced.
“The Waller County Jail is trying to rule her death a suicide and Sandy would not have taken her own life,” LaNitra Dean, Bland’s friend, told ABC Chicago. “Sandy was strong. Strong mentally and spiritually.”
According her family, Bland traveled from Chicago to Texas for a job interview at her alma mater, Prairie View A & M. Her family said she got the job and was set to begin on Wednesday, July 15. But sadly, things didn’t go according to plan.
On Friday, a Texas State Trooper stopped Bland for failing to signal during a lane change. The officer claims she was “combative” and Bland was arrested for “assault on a public servant.” Two days later, the woman who spent the July 4th holiday road tripping with her mother was dead.
Waller County officials say jailers saw Bland at 7 a.m. on Monday when they brought her breakfast, and again at 8 a.m. when they spoke to her over an intercom. But when a female guard went to check on her an hour later, Bland wasn’t breathing. Her family contends she was found hanging in her cell.
In a statement, Sheriff Smith said, “Any loss of life is a tragic incident,” but contends Bland’s death was due to “self-inflicted asphyxiation.”
Lavaghn Mosley, a family friend, said the story just doesn’t make any sense.
“Anybody that knows Sandra Bland knows she had a thirst for life. She was planning for the future, and she came here to start part of that future,” he told reporters. “So to say that she killed herself is totally absurd.”
Alana Taylor, who claimed to be Bland’s Sigma Gamma Rho, Inc. sorority sister, said suicide wouldn’t have even been on her friend’s mind.
“She was a strong force that took life head on. Suicide would be the LAST thing on her mind as she was on the brink of starting a new chapter of life: a new job, a strong cause to fight for, and a thick network of support,” Taylor wrote on WatchTheYard.com. “There are just too many discrepancies and holes in the official report. As far as her friends, chapter, alma mater and family are concerned: Sandy is still speaking and somebody is gonna listen.”
Waller County D.A. Elton Mathis admitted the circumstances surrounding Bland’s death are “strange” and called for an investigation.
“I will admit it is strange that someone that apparently seemed to have everything going her way would have taken her own life,” Mathis said. “That’s why it’s very important that a thorough investigation is done and that we get a good picture of what Ms. Bland was going through the last four or five days of her life.”
The Texas Rangers have taken over the investigation into Bland’s death at the Waller County jail, and her friends and family are planning a protest.