Sheriff’s Office Acknowledges Rule Violations in Bland Death
EMPSTEAD, Texas (AP) — The latest on the investigation into the recent death of a woman in a Texas jail cell (all times local):
The Waller County sheriff’s office has acknowledged in the aftermath of Sandra Bland’s death that it violated state rules dictating personnel training and the monitoring of inmates.
The Texas Commission on Jail Standards last week cited the county jail for not providing documents proving that jailers in the past year had undergone training on interacting with inmates who are mentally disabled or potentially suicidal.
The citation also shows jailers fell short by not observing inmates in-person at least once every hour. The sheriff’s office in a statement Friday said jailers checked on Bland via intercom on one occasion rather than in person.
Commission Executive Director Brandon Wood has declined to say if the citation is related to Bland’s death. But sheriff’s officials mention her when explaining the violations, noting that they don’t believe “either one of these deficiencies had any part in the death of Ms. Bland.”
Authorities have said Bland committed suicide by hanging herself in her cell days after she was arrested, but her family disputes the account.
The Texas trooper who pulled Sandra Bland over for a failing to signal a lane change says in an affidavit that after handcuffing her for becoming combative, she swung her elbows at him and kicked him in his right shin.
In the affidavit released Tuesday, trooper Brian Encinia said he then used force “to subdue Bland to the ground,” and she continued to fight back. He arrested her for assault on a public servant.
Bland was taken to the Waller County Jail on July 10. She was found dead in her cell July 13. Authorities say she hanged herself. Her family questions that finding.
Texas authorities said last week that the trooper violated procedures and the department’s courtesy policy during the traffic stop and was placed on administrative leave.
State records show Encinia has been a trooper for the Texas Department of Public Safety for just over a year.
The prosecutor in a Texas county where authorities say a woman hanged herself in a jail cell is calling for a “thorough review” of the case, saying it’s too soon to rule her death a suicide.
Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said at a news conference Monday that a Texas Rangers investigation into Sandra Bland’s death is “being treated just as it would be in a murder investigation.”
He says it’s too soon to “make any kind of determination” about whether her death was a suicide.
Bland’s family and friends have disputed authorities’ contention that she killed herself.
The 28-year-old Naperville, Illinois, woman was arrested July 10 after officials said she became uncooperative during a traffic stop. She was found dead in her cell three days later.
Mathis says the case will go to a grand jury once the investigation is complete.
Dashcam video of Bland’s arrest is expected to be released Tuesday.