By now you’ve heard about the death of Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old woman who died while in custody at the Waller County jail. According to her family, Bland had everything to live for—a move, a new job, a fresh start. But somehow, the Prairie View A&M grad, who was outspoken about the plight of Black folks, ended up dead in a Texas jail cell.
This week, after Bland’s story became national news due to the conversations on Black Twitter, the Waller County D.A. announced his office was would investigate her death as a murder, despite city officials classifying it as a suicide.
What actually happened to Bland in that jail cell is unclear, but we know how she got there.
Tuesday, Waller County officials released dashcam video of Bland’s arrest. In the video, the officer seems agitated Bland refused to put out her cigarette during the traffic stop, and things quickly escalated from there.
After pulling his taser and threatening to “light her up,” Bland finally gets out of her vehicle and is forced to the ground and taken into custody. After the encounter, she called her sister to say she thought her arm was broken.
Two days later she was dead.
Sandra Bland didn’t have to die. The officer, who has been pulled from duty, could have made better decisions throughout their encounter. Instead of yelling and threatening Bland with violence, the trooper could have given her a ticket for failing to use her signal and moved on.
— Molly Hennessy-Fiske (@mollyhf) July 21, 2015
But he didn’t, and Bland is dead. And this sobering picture explains how driving while Black, or shopping while Black, or playing in the park while Black, or attending a pool party while Black, or daring to speak your mind while Black can get you killed.