The mysterious death of Sandra Bland – was an inmate already dead in her booking photo?
// July 27th, 2015 // News
The death of Sandra Bland
Sandra Bland was pulled over for a minor traffic violation on July 10, 2015 in Prairie View, Texas, just northwest of Houston, Texas. She had failed to give a turn signal when changing lanes. As Bland and Texas state trooper Brian Encinia discussed the reason for her stop, the situation escalated and Bland was arrested and charged with assault (the office claims that she kicked him). Dashboard video of the event showed Bland was argumentative but non-violent during the incident. She was taken to Waller County jail. Three days later, she was found dead, hanging in her jail cell, a plastic bag wrapped around her neck and tied to a nearby bunk bed.
When Bland was arrested and booked on July 10, her bail was set at $5,000. Police said that on July 13, three days after her arrest, at around 7:00 AM, Bland told a jailer that she was doing fine. Police say that around 8:00 AM, Bland asked to make a phone call. At about 9:00 AM, police say they found Bland “in a semi-standing position” hanged in her cell. Motion-activated video showed no recording from 7:34 AM to 9:07 AM. An autopsy concluded that Bland died of asphyxiation as a result of suicide. Then a series of bizarre inconsistencies arose drawing attention, and questions, about her untimely “suicide”.
Suspicions about Bland’s death clumsily rebuked by authorities
Inconsistencies in Bland’s booking form
Almost immediately, the death seemed suspicious. Bland was a college-educated civil rights activist. A member of the Black Lives Matter campaign, she regularly posted articles regarding police brutality against blacks – and she had a long record of prior contact with Waller County police. Suspicions were first raised when her booking form showed odd inconsistencies. The sheriff’s office explained that the inconsistencies arose because Bland was screened twice and that she had given different answers during each of the two screenings.
Dashboard video of Bland’s arrest shows clear evidence of editing
In an attempt to calm the growing controversy, police hastily released the video of Bland’s arrest which showed police pulling her over for failing to signal a lane change. Immediately viewers noted that the video had been edited. The dashcam video clearly showed cars and people appearing and vanishing on the road while the audio of Bland and Officer Encinia’s “argument”, which began after Encinia demanded Bland extinguish the cigarette she was smoking inside her car, bore no breaks whatsoever. The Texas Department of Public Safety said that irregularities in the video resulted from “technical issues” that occurred when the video was posted. The video was taken down and replaced with an updated version.
Police then released a booking photo of Bland but again, many people noticed a series of bizarre discrepancies. For one, Bland was wearing an orange jail jumpsuit but police say booking photos are taken during in-processing – while the arrestee is still wearing their street clothes. Researchers confirmed this after finding other Waller Country booking photos showed the bookee wearing their street clothes during the booking process.
More troubling, in the booking photo, Bland appeared to be laying down. Her head lay against a grayish surface and her eyes eerily empty, a far different “look” than the normally photogenic Bland displayed when in front of a camera. In the booking photo, Bland’s hair appears to be falling backward, into the “wall”, and the fat in her face sagging rearward as if she were laying on her back. Most disturbingly, many noticed that the left side of her face drooped, a characteristic sign of oxygen deprivation. When police were questioned about the odd elements in the photo, they produced proof Bland was alive during booking in the form of the side-profile view of Bland during booking. Not surprisingly, the picture was blurry and dark making the person in the photo indistinguishable.
A third booking photo emerges
Shortly after the side-profile booking photo was released by Waller County officials, a third photo appeared on the Internet claiming to be the “real” photo of Bland after her death. A note with the photo claimed the photo was subsequently edited to make the eyes of her lifeless body appear to be opened and used as the booking photo. The source of the photo is unknown.
The open Bible
A local television studio which was covering the bizarre case was given a tour of Bland’s cell. The reporter noticed a Bible opened on Bland’s table and snapped a quick picture of it. After reviewing clips from other station sources, he noticed that the Bible had been present in earlier shots of the cell but had been closed. Curious about the strange change in the crime scene, the photograph was enlarged. It was discovered that the Bible had been opened to a verse in the book of Psalm. The verse read:
“Though I constantly take my life in my hands, I will not forget your law. The wicked have set a snare for me, but I have not strayed from your precepts. Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.”
Sources: Heavy Magazine, KHOU television, CNN, Wikipedia, Waller County Sheriff’s Department, Texas Department of Public Safety
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