DPS: Trooper who pulled over Sandra Bland violated procedures

Friends and family protested and marched to the Waller Co. courthouse.

HEMPSTEAD, Texas – The trooper who pulled over Sandra Bland on a traffic stop last Friday has been put on desk duty for violating procedures. The DPS said the unidentified trooper "violated the department's procedures regarding traffic stops and the department's courtesy policy."

After spending the weekend in the Waller County Jail, Bland, 28, was found hanged in her cell on Monday. The Harris County medical examiner said it was a suicide.

KHOU 11 News has learned the jail was cited for violations of minimum jail standards Thursday by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. The violations cited were: 1. Observation of inmates. Standards require inmates be observed face-to-face at least every 60 minutes around the clock; and 2. Staff training, including how to handle inmates who are mentally disabled and/or suicidal.

"At this time, we have no reason to believe that either one of these deficiencies had any part in the death of Sandra Bland," said Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith in a written statement.

On Friday, demonstrators demanded answers and justice during a rally at the jail. Protesters from throughout the state joined Bland's relatives from Chicago as they marched from the jail to the courthouse.

"I just couldn't imagine that someone would say that this woman, that was so strong, would take her own life. She wouldn't have done that," said Lanitra Dean, a friend.

Friends say Bland was an active voice against police brutality and they believe that's at the heart of this case.

"If the truth was something she was speaking during the time of her arrest, if the truth was something she was speaking while she was incarcerated in jail, somebody didn't like the truth," said Dean.

"I'm pretty sure when her mama dropped her off, she wasn't expecting to come back and pick her up in a coffin," said another protester.

Bland was pulled over in Prairie View last Friday for a traffic violation.

"She had become combative on the side of the road," Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith said.

The officer arrested her on charges of assaulting a public servant.

A friend said she called him from jail Friday night and told him her version of what happened.

"She was smoking when he pulled her over. Told her to put her cigarette out, she had an exchange of words and it just went downhill. She said he snatched her out of the window and slammed her on her face," LaVaughn Mosely said.

Since her death, alleged video of Bland's arrest has been posted to both Facebook and YouTube.

The video shows deputies cuffing Bland on the ground. She appears to be yelling, saying the deputies slammed her head into the ground.

One of the deputies then turns his attention to the person recording the altercation, telling them they need to leave.

(Warning: The YouTube video contains language that some may find offensive.)

From the barber shop across the street, Renee McKnight had a front row seat to Bland's arrest.

"She was telling him to get his so and so hands off of her and jerking away from him," McKnight said.

McKnight said she then saw Bland end up on the ground.

"I couldn't tell if he slammed her down there or it was a maneuver she did trying to stop him from putting her in the car caused her to be put on the ground," McKnight said. "She was very, very upset. She wasn't trying to get in that police car."

Family and friends say this doesn't add up and they don't believe she would hurt herself.

"I talked to her Friday and she was in good spirits," said Mosely. "Although she was incarcerated she was in good spirits. She was looking forward to posting bond Saturday and getting out. So you don't go from that to hanging yourself."

The Prairie View A&M graduate had just moved back to Texas to start a new job at her alma mater and relatives say she was excited for a new chapter.

The FBI and Texas Rangers are investigating.

Elton Mathis, district attorney of Waller County, is also looking into this video posted online in March, that shows Bland talking about her struggle with depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome.

"She also spoke of how to help with that, how to counter depression, through your faith," Dean said.


There were no cameras in Bland's cell, but Mathis says video from the hallways does not show anyone going into her cell.

"It appears she had used a trash bag to hang herself from a partition in the ceiling, which was used to give inmates privacy," Mathis said.

That video, along with dashcam video has been turned over to the FBI. Authorities said Friday it will be made public soon.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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