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The Mysterious Case Of Sandra Bland Raises Many Questions
From Extreme High To Extreme Low
Over the past few weeks Sandra Bland's arrest and death have been front page news. For many it has been particularly disturbing because it originated with a simple traffic stop for a minor violation that escalated into her being arrested and later dying while in police custody. What makes it even more tragic is the fact that the incident came on the heels of Miss Bland interviewing and securing a job at her alma mater Prairie View A & M. In a matter of minutes Sandra Bland went from euphoric to disgusted because of what was said to be a failure to signal a lane change while driving away from campus. From there Sandra's world would change dramatically.
Sandra Bland's Traffic Stop
Sandra Bland Traffic Stop Video
When Sandra Bland was pulled over she had just left from Prairie View A & M where she had graduated from in 2009. The day before she had been given a job in student outreach and was no doubt riding on a natural high. As can be seen in the beginning of the dash cam video from trooper Encinia's patrol car after his first traffic stop pulls into Prairie View campus to the left Sandra Bland's car can be seen making a right turn from the same entrance/exit seemingly running a stop sign at the "T" intersection. Trooper Encinia makes a left-handed u-turn and follows her accelerating as he goes. When he catches up to her she changes lanes and pulls over without using a turn signal thinking that he wants to pass her. It is then he turns on his flashing lights after she has stopped by the curb and begins a traffic stop charging her with making an illegal lane change without a turn signal.
Initially the stop appears to go well until officer Encinia asks Sandra to put out her cigarette which she refuses to do. From that point the situation escalates into physical confrontation that results in Bland being arrested and three days later being found dead in her jail cell.
Many questions arise from this incident among them being: What was officer Encinia's true reason for pulling Sandra Bland over? Was it really failure to signal? She appeared to have run a stop sign earlier. Why didn't he pull her over for that? This was the second woman he had pulled over as far as we know. Was that a coincidence or was he indeed targeting women? Sandra Bland seemed to be nervous and agitated throughout the stop. Why? Officer Encinia seemed to be prolonging the stop with small talk as if he were looking for something. Was he? This traffic stop went horribly wrong and it is hard to figure out why even after looking at the dash cam video but for some reason these two people ended up on a collision course that ended in tragedy leaving us with a ton of unanswered questions.
Sandra Bland's Jail Cell
Sandra sat in her jail cell for two and a half days alone with no one to talk to except the cell mate across the hall from her. She had a shower, a toilet, three bunks and what appears to be a television in her cell. The cell appears to be well kept and clean. She also has a large trash can with a plastic liner in it which Waller County officials claim she used to hang herself from the bathroom partition. What is curious is that they would even have such a possible weapon in a jail cell in that it could be used to inflict harm on oneself or used to inflict harm on someone else. Inmates are usually stripped of shoelaces, belts and even socks that could be fashioned into a choking instrument so why would a plastic trash can liner (which could also be used as a suffocating device) be in the cell with an inmate? And why such a large can and big liner? How much trash could the inmate(s) be generating on a daily basis?
On intake sheets she was noted as saying she had attempted suicide. Even though the years didn't match the fact that she said she had attempted it recently as the last two years should have been warning enough to put her on suicide watch but she was not. Could it be they didn't care if she harmed herself? After all if she did it would save them time and money and eliminate a big problem.
The jail had a reputation for being relaxed in following proper jail procedure regarding inmate supervision which only raises more questions.
Sandra Bland's Mother And Sister
Family and Friends
While Sandra was incarcerated she waited on family and friends to contact her. After her bail hearing she spoke to one of her sisters who assured her that they were working on getting her bail money so she could get out of jail. Sandra called a bail bondsman herself and he in turn contacted her family. With her bail set at $5,000 her family merely had to pay $500 via Western Union to the bondsman to get her bailed out of jail. Her bail was set early Saturday so they had Saturday and Sunday to get the money together. With four sisters and a mother from a seemingly well-to-do family that should not be a problem but for some reason Sandra did not hear from her family and grew frustrated waiting to hear from them. It would also seem that the phone lines would have been flooded with them calling to check on her physical and mental well being but they were not which is also puzzling and raises questions. She is several hundred miles away sitting in a jail cell. One would think they would be calling regularly. I would have been calling 2 to 3 times a day to check on her. Again there are four sisters and a mother. That's 5 calls a day if each one calls once a day. It raises questions.
Sandra Bland's bail hearing raises even more questions. She was not represented by counsel. Why? Isn't she supposed to get a public defender if she can't afford an attorney? Even though it was just a bail hearing shouldn't she still have had legal representation? If she had had a lawyer would he/she have recommend that the charges against Sandra be dropped? Would they have argued that her arrest was illegal and the charge of assaulting a public servant and resisting arrest were a result of a false arrest in the first place? Would they have argued that the officer's breach of proper procedure during the traffic stop was the impetus for the ensuing assault and resisting arrest charges? Did the judge even read the arrest report?
Sandra Bland's Booking Photo
State Of Mind
What was Sandra Bland's state of mind as she sat in her Waller County jail cell alone without contact from family or friends? No one really knows except Sandra herself. No doubt her mind was racing over what she was facing and how she would come out of it. We know she was concerned about missing the first day on her new job because she told her cell mate across from her. It has also come to light that she had more than $7,000 in unpaid fines from previous traffic tickets and brushes with the law which could have also been weighing on her thoughts. With little to do but think these thoughts could have overwhelmed her and caused her to take her own life. And without contact from loved ones or professional help she could have easily succumbed to them. We simply don't know. In her booking photo above she displays a blank stare which is indicative of nothing but could be interpreted in many ways. We also know she was crying a lot because her cell mate across from her reported this also. But was she telling the truth or simply saying what she was told to say? Again, we don't know. We do know she was refusing to eat which is a sign to some people that a person may be suffering from depression and may be giving up on living. In fact the very morning that she was found dead she had refused breakfast. Had she in fact given up on life? We don't know.
Sandra Bland's Funeral
The End Result
At the end of all this we are left with a plethora of questions that only the participants can answer. Unfortunately one of the participants is no longer here so we must find the evidence that will speak for her.
Officer Encinia has some explaining to do as do the jailers at the Waller County Jail. There is no reason why a simple traffic stop should end up with someone dying. In looking at the video it can be seen that there was wrong done on both parties' part. Both could have done things that would have diffused the situation but instead chose to "stand their ground." Mistakes were made all around and there is enough blame for everyone involved to share but when all is said and done it will not bring Sandra Bland back.
The only thing we can hope is that we all learn from this and pray it never happens again.
But realistically it probably will.