Jail video points to why Sandra Bland’s family says her death is a mystery
<p class="p1">Weller County officials released a three-hour video leading up to the time jail personnel found Sandra Bland, 28, dead in her Hampstead, Texas, jail cell. Coroner’s officials have ruled her death a suicide, but her family disputes the
The Waller County district attorney’s office has released a three-hour surveillance video that shows the hallway of the Hempstead, Texas, jail where Sandra Bland was found dead in cell 95 on July 13.
The 28-year-old African American woman was found hanging by a plastic trash bag from a bathroom privacy partition in her cell -- a death that has thrust her case into the national debate over race and policing.
An initial autopsy report classified Bland’s death as a suicide. But her family, friends and activists have disputed this, saying such a promising young woman about to start a new job as a college outreach worker would not have killed herself.
Waller County Dist. Atty. Elton Mathis, who released the video, said Bland’s death is being investigated by local officials as a possible homicide.
Family attorney Cannon Lambert said the video offers no insight into Bland’s death and points to the need for an independent investigation.
The Times has edited the three-hour video to show the movement inside the jail in the hours leading up to Bland’s death. Officials also released a chronology describing what jail personnel were doing at the time.
The video says it starts at timestamp 6:03 a.m., but it is actually nine minutes, 26 seconds fast. At the start, jail officers can be seen serving breakfast, with Bland refusing a tray.
According to the timestamp, about 6:51 a.m., an officer can be seen entering cell 95 for a security check.
At 7:17 a.m., a different male officer can be seen peering into the rectangular window of cell 95 and, according to the chronology, “checking on Ms. Bland.”
About 30 seconds later, another officer stops at cell 95 and appears to be talking to Bland for several seconds.
There’s then a gap in the video -- from 7:18 a.m. to 7:24 a.m.
At a news conference Monday, Mathis said the video is motion-activated, so “there’s going to be some gaps.”
“At this point, we don’t believe there was any editing. These have not been analyzed by the FBI yet,” he said.
From 7:34 a.m. to 9:07 a.m., the video shows no movement in or out of cell 95.
Then, about 9:07 a.m., a female officer can be seen checking the window of cell 95 and then running for help. She returns with a male officer, and others soon join them, some performing CPR on Bland.
At 9:13 a.m., paramedics can be seen entering the jail and then cell 95. By 9:16 a.m., a paramedic pronounces Bland dead, and the crew can be seen leaving a minute later.
Must-read stories from the L.A. Times
Get all the day's most vital news with our Today's Headlines newsletter, sent every weekday morning.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.