WRITTEN BY: Bruce T. Wright
There have been renewed calls to open up the investigation into Sandra Bland’s suspicious death after a Texas news outlet published the video she filmed of her own infamous arrest in 2015. The footage, made public by WFAA late Monday night, was apparently evidence that local police had been concealing for nearly four years.
The revelation that Bland was aware enough to grab her smartphone and record the harrowing ordeal convinced many users across social media that the 28-year old Chicago native was prepared to hold police accountable in a court of law. Instead, three days later, police said they found Bland hanging in her Waller County jail cell and ruled her death a suicide.
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Initial body cam footage showed the arresting officer getting belligerent after Bland demanded to know why she was being arrested, let alone removed from her vehicle, for the minor traffic infraction of changing lanes without a turn signal. The video from 2015 went viral and showed the cop violently threatening Bland with his Taser: “I will light you up!”
After seeing the newly surfaced video from back then, Bland’s family was demanding justice years after it had been denied to them.
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“Open up the case, period,” Shante Needham said to WFAA after she saw the video on Monday, prompting her to suspect the Waller Police Department was complicit in her sister’s death. “We also know they have an extremely, extremely good cover-up system.”
By all means, Bland had every reason to want to live, including the fact that she was set to start a new job at Prairie View A&M University, a historically Black college which is located about 20 minutes north of where the officer pulled her over.
The Texas Department of Public Safety denied it had withheld any evidence.
“The premise that the video was not produced as a part of the discovery process is wrong,” the agency told WFAA in a brief statement. “A hard drive containing copies of 820 Gigabytes of data compiled by DPS from its investigation, including the dashcam videos, jail video footage and data from Sandra Bland’s cell phone, was part of discovery.”
Bland’s case became a rallying call in the push for criminal justice reform after she died following an arrest for failing to use her turn signal in July 2015. Many activists argued that she should not have been arrested for a minor traffic infraction or jailed in the first place.
Earlier this year, another Black inmate was also found dead after apparently hanging himself in the same Texas jail where Bland died, prompting further questions about the facility. Bland’s death sparked police reforms that in practice should have prevented the death in January. For one thing, face-to-face cell inspections were supposed to occur more frequently after Bland died. But with the other inmate’s death, it appeared that protocol was not followed.
See below for the recently revealed footage from 2015 that Bland filmed of her own arrest.
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