Police Abuse

Police Violence Activist Found Dead in Jail Cell After Being Pulled Over for Not Signaling a Lane Change in Texas

Was headed there from Illinois for a new job at her alma mater.

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Earlier this month, 28-year-old Sandra Bland was pulled over for allegedly failing to signal a lane change by a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper near the Prairie View A&M campus. She had driven there from her home in Naperville, Illinois, for a new job at her alma mater. Police accused her of being combative during the stop, and she was arrested for "assault on a public servant." Three days later she was found dead in a county jail cell. The coroner ruled the death a suicide by hanging.

A witness claims to have seen Bland resist being arrested during her stop, but video taken by a bystander of the initial traffic stop doesn't appear to show Bland being combative:

Her family says they do not believe Bland, described as a civil rights activist who participated in the police reform "Black Lives Matter" movement, was the kind of person to commit suicide. One family member says she talked to Bland a couple of days before her death and that Bland was in "good spirits" waiting for her bond to be posted. Her family says she had not been diagnosed with clinical depression, but CBS News dug up a video posted to social media in March where Bland purportedly said she was suffering from "a little bit of depression as well as PTSD." Studies suggest eight percent of Americans suffer from PTSD, but that that number is higher in poor, largely African-American communities.

The investigation into Bland's death is being conducted by the Texas Rangers and the FBI will also be joining the investigation. The county sheriff's office says when Bland was found in her cell the morning she died she was unresponsive, and that video showed no one else in her cell. The district attorney says Bland appeared to use a trash bag to hang herself on a privacy partition.

Whether or not foul play was involved in Bland's death, police have not explained why she would have been pulled out of her car over a traffic stop that should have only led to a simple citation in the first place. Millions of people use the roads every day, and it shouldn't be strange, or something police can't handle, that some of these people might be upset when they're pulled over for an alleged infraction that's going to cost them money. Police officers should have thick enough skin to deal with some "combativeness" when they're essentially shaking people down on the roads. The question of when police should be allowed to order drivers they've pulled over to exit their cars is an important one to consider in the efforts to limit police brutality.

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94 responses to “Police Violence Activist Found Dead in Jail Cell After Being Pulled Over for Not Signaling a Lane Change in Texas

  1. Police officers should have thick enough skin to deal with some “combativeness” when they’re essentially shaking people down on the roads

    Maybe he was behind in his revenue quota?

    Police accused her of being combative during the stop, and she was arrested for “assault on a public servant.”

    That right there is why she is dead. At least a hero went home safe that night.

    1. “Combative” = not abjectly compliant and subservient to the officer’s every demand. Why, i bet she either made eye contact with the officer, which is aggressive, or didn’t make eye contact, which indicates she was hiding something!

      1. I think I get your meaning………..

        https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=S06nIz4scvI

      2. Or she wouldn’t give him a blow job.

    2. As a matter of survival people need to understand that the punishment for disrespecting “law enforcement” is often death, and that it can happen to them as much as anybody. Cops understand that they have de facto authority to determine guilt and summarily execute people on the spot. Now all of the “civilians” need to see the light.

      1. First, this woman did know that. She was an activist against police violence. Second, she wasn’t executed on the spot. She was found hanging in her jail cell.

        1. Could be that she had a case against the cops, and now she doesn’t.

          1. They probably figured out that she understood her rights which was unacceptable.

        2. I think thom was speaking in general terms, therefore not specifically referring to Bland.
          And he’s right.

  2. Yet another reason to never ever ever ever say anything except yes sir no sir to a police officer. You will get your ass beat and arrested.

    1. While I agree that is always the best strategy, it shouldn’t be that we fear the state and its agents. It should be the other way around.

      1. You are correct, but that is not reality. You cannot afford to live in a fantasy – it can get you killed as this poor young woman discovered.

    2. A former cop told me that, as a cop, he learned all the ways to beat someone without leaving marks. I’m terrified of him to this day.

      1. I’ve been terrified of cops since I overheard some drunk cops consoling their drunk buddy who was visibly distraught that he’d never had the opportunity to kill someone.

      2. Woodchipper.

        1. It may yet come to that, if they continue to act like an Army of Occupation.

    3. I’ve encountered multiple instances over the last few years in which it would have been helpful to have been able to summon a responsive and professional police officer, but I’ve never called the cops on anybody, because I am worried about how they will react.

      1. Without exception, every time I’ve called the cops after being a victim of a crime, with the crimes ranging from my apartment being broken into to being robbed at gunpoint, all the cops did was search me, run me for warrants, and then snidely tell me that they’ll get me for something the next time I call them. I haven’t been the victim of a crime in a long time, but if I was I seriously doubt I’d call the cops.

        1. The couple of times I’ve been robbed or in accidents, I made sure to call the police on the NON-Emergency line to report. I made it very clear that there was no danger.

          All I really wanted out of them was a report # for my insurance.

          1. At what point will the insurance companies realize that requiring a police report number actually leads to greater payouts for them?

            “If we had just paid out on the burglary claim, we wouldn’t now be paying out on his life insurance and on the city insurance policy to cover police harassment claims”

            1. I’m pretty sure insurance doesn’t cover acts of government.

          2. Sometimes you have difficulty getting even that. Had a smash and grab on my van, the cop tried to charge me with insurance fraud.

        2. My car was broken into about 6 months ago at the train station, and there was no fucking way I was calling the cops. I don’t think the risk of something bad happening to me if I called them was very high, but I certainly know that getting my stuff back was even less likely.

          My sister-in-law’s husband’s car got stolen a few weeks back, and he saw the thing down the street a couple hours later. The cops, instead of waiting to see who would come out to the car in a few minutes, proceeded to lecture them on how they chose to live in the neighborhood that they’re in, and that “we’re not [insert list of suburban city names here].” The grand total of what the cops did was suggest that they change the locks on their (now trashed and hotboxed) car.

          1. and that “we’re not [insert list of suburban city names here].”

            That means they don’t pay for cops, then, right?

            1. Yes. Suburbs never pay for anything and only exist by draining resources from cities.

          2. My sister-in-law’s husband’s

            How is this not your brother?

            1. It could mean ‘husband of my spouse’s sister’. Sister-in-law has two meanings, after all.

        3. Dude, what the fuck? I mean, I’ve had lots and lots and lots of shitty interactions with the police, but usually at least when I’ve been the one calling 911, they’re not that dickish.

      2. I was in an Army Reserve MP Brigade for many years and many of the Officers and Soldiers were cops in their full time profession. (just to be clear an MP duties are far different than a Police Officers). They were mellow, calm, and professional. The older guys had seen it all and were very good at resolving conflict just by talking.

        BUT

        They did have a gallows sense of humor from years of dealling with scumbags…

        I mean really, think about the crap they deal with everyday: crime and then just interacing with JERKS who are mad for being stopped…

        I have encountered one Jerk Cop who made a rude comment to me because I broke up a fight… beside that even the time I was arrested the cops were just doing their job…

    4. Best to avoid police altogether as far as possible.

      When I can’t avoid it, I do keep answers short and polite and volunteer nothing. But I will be damned if I call a cop (or anyone) “sir”. I can’t think of a single instance in my life when I called anyone “sir” or “ma’am” un-sarcastically.

      1. How unfortunate, that you’ve never met anyone in your life who you wanted to express respect for.

        1. Yeah I call someone sir probably once a day at least. It’s not a term for submitting to authority, it’s a term conveying a very basic level of respect. It just so happens that cops are less worthy of that honorific than your average gas station clerk is.

        2. I have other ways of showing respect. To me “sir” is a term for showing subservience. You may interpret it otherwise, but that’s what it is to me. I find that I am quite successful at showing respect to people who I find deserving respect in other ways.

        3. I suppose that a lot of people do use “sir” in a friendly and casual way among equals. And that’s fine.

          But give me a fucking break. There are plenty of ways to show respect to people who deserve it.

          1. No one said it was the only way. When I say “Thank you, sir.” to the guy who pumped my gas I’m not being subservient to him and I’ve never thought of anyone taking it that in such a context. But certainly when the clerk is talking down to me or threatening me and then I call him sir, that’s subservience. (which rules out just about any cop you meet)

            1. Mr. Dean did seem to say so, as implied by his conclusion that I have never met anyone who I wanted to express respect for.

            2. Most people use it the way the Japanese use “-san”; as a generic polite form of address.

      2. Takin’ ’em off here, boss.

      3. Wow Zeb.

        I refer to everyone as ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am’ unless they have done something impolite. People in this part of the country are typically very polite. It’s just good manners.

        1. Well, people have other ways of being polite where I live. I suspect it is more common in the South; thouse surprised that I don’t say “sir” seem to be southerners. I’m a reserved, taciturn New Englander. Probably just a regional variation in manners. I’m not saying you shouldn’t say “sir”. I just don’t. It’s not the norm where I live and grew up.

          1. Zeb bad. He no use”sir”.
            Getim, Reasonoids, getim!

          2. Zeb bad. He no use”sir”.
            Getim, Reasonoids, getim!

            1. Squirells bad, too! Bad squirrels!

        2. It really is just a signal of subservience to me. It’s what you call superiors in the military, and what you called your teachers in the old days when they would beat you if you didn’t. and it’s what people say to cops when they want to seem extra deferential. And I don’t play that game.
          That’s what it means to me. Sorry.

          1. I never say sir to cops. I refer to them as officer.

            I call waitress my age or older as ma’am. It’s considered polite in my world.

            I have reflexively used ma’am up north before.

            Some northern women get very upset.

          2. Same here.

      4. I regularly address these honorifics to the likes of cashiers and waiters. It’s sort of the opposite of the Army; you “sir” people who *do* work for a living.

  3. When I was growing up I was told that activists “committed suicide in jail” only in repressive countries, and that never happened in The Land of the Free.

    1. The Land of the Free

      It’s only The Land of the Free if you are an agent of the state.

    2. That goes back at least as far as The Godfather.

  4. The question of when police should be allowed to order drivers they’ve pulled over to exit their cars is an important one to consider in the efforts to limit police brutality.

    “I smell marijuana.”

    and after the fact

    “I felt threatened…”

  5. I don’t know the police are fucked up but I doubt they are intelligent enough to cover something up in this way.

    1. Pay off a criminal to do it. I dunno, maybe I’ve been watching too much of the wire.

    2. And who’s gonna investigate them?

      Sprinkle some crack on em and let’s get out of here.

    3. I once read a story about a mentally retarded guy who’d killed his own family (or maybe? Killed someone at any rate), then broke out of an asylum before being caught (it was back in the early 20th century). There was a quote from one of his teachers that said that as mentally backwards as he was, he’d display genius-level intellect when it came to covering up for himself. Just because police are mentally incompetent doesn’t mean they aren’t good at covering up where needed.

  6. Just. Fucked. Up.

    I will say, the State Cops (who in my exp in MI are the most professional, polite and least likely to shoot a dog…or me) got me for 90 in a 70 the other day (yeah, I did it). Unlike Zeb, I was all “Yes sir, no sir” while offering nothing.

    He let me off with a warning.

    Of course, he was a black cop, and I’m white…..NTTAWWT.

    1. Cops are like wind-up toys. It almost never happens that the cop comes up to an unsuspecting speeder all roided out, smashing stuff and swinging his baton. You have to feed into the system for them to start acting like gorillas.

      It’s like at the zoo. You get the chimps to fling poo not by observing quietly from a safe distance, but by banging on the glass and making faces.

      It doesn’t excuse them acting like gorillas, but it does give one a hint as to how to act if they don’t want their ass beat by the gorilla.

      1. You just made the chimp comment cause my cop overlord was black, DIDN’T YOU??!!!!

        RAAAAAAAAAAACIST!!!!!^^^

  7. At first I thought how awful, but then there’s a video of her talking about depression.
    I had several scenarios running through my mind. I said perhaps she really was upset and sticking it to the man.

    1. Even if she committed suicide, it was started by them locking her up for a minor traffic violation, and video shows the police flat-out lied about her being “combative”. So that still wouldn’t exonerate them, IMO.

      1. The video starts after she was cuffed and restrained, so we can’t judge anything from that.

        But it is NOT against the law to mouth off to a cop, so it’s very difficult to understand the legal basis for the cop to demand that she leave the car in the first place (assuming the car was registered, and she had a valid license).

        What tears it for me is the cop telling the person taking the video to leave. He has no authority to make such a demand, and all police departments have been told that federal court cases affirm the citizenry’s right to record such incidents as long as they do not interfere with them.

        RIGHT THERE I’m thinking the cop is a jerk, asshole and unworthy of the badge and firearm.

        I suspect he’s just part of a larger pool of unworthy jerks and assholes.

        1. The police claim she kicked an officer when she was outside the car. If so, not good — for her. You can’t do that.

          But why was she out of the car in the first place? If she got out on her own, that’s a double not-good.

          We’ll see what the facts are.

          p.s. I’d like to say on the record that the entire police force in Bridgewater, VT, a well-known speed trap a few miles west of Woodstock , are thugs in police uniforms who should be put up against a wall by the STATE police and shot. They are an utter disgrace to the concept of public service—and the reason I’ll never return to that state..

          (just to show I’m no automatic defender of the boys in blue)

          1. VT State Police were the ones who “smelled pot”, impounded the car after the driver refused a consent search, and left the driver to walk home (5 miles) in winter weather wearing nothing but a sweat shirt. Cell phone and wallet were impounded with the car.

            They should all get the STASI treatment.

      2. I did see on TV, video of a witness saying the poor woman was wildly uncooperative. Highly doubt the witness was completely fabricating. So no, I doubt the video shows the police flat-out lied.

        The police may be guilty but I don’t think we have seen all the evidence yet.

        FWIW I live close to Waller County.

    2. Its one thing to be “depressed” in the vernacular sense.

      Its entirely another to be suicidal.

  8. I’m pretty sure she committed suicide, but I do strongly agree with the final paragraph of this article.

    1. +1

  9. Nobody uses their turn signals in Columbus except maybe me. I’m even sure it’s still a law here. Wasn’t there so I don’t know who escalation this situation but my money would be on the cops. I’m sure they made no attempt to prevent any escalation as per SOP.

    1. Nobody uses their turn signals in Columbus except maybe me. I’m even sure it’s still a law here.

      It irritates me when people don’t use their turn signals. If I don’t know why you’re drifting across your lane, I assume you’re either drunk or texting. Turn signals are a courtesy for the people around you so that they can predict what you’re about to do.

      What irritates me 10 times as much are the people who use their turn signals to generally indicate what direction they’ll be drifting for the next 10 seconds as they drift across 5 lanes of traffic trying to play Frogger during rush hour. It’s a little patronizing to pretend that you actually think the lanes exist.

    2. Oh it’s a law. A Columbus cop got me for turning onto Summit St without a signal, even though I did and he wasn’t even sitting at an angle where he could possibly confirm or deny that I signaled. He told me to express that opinion in court.

      1. My experience with Ohio cops is that they are nothing more than armed revenue collectors.

  10. Hey, people sometimes slip and hang themselves. It happens.

    1. +1 Cry Freedom.

  11. It’s a sad day when only the police can lynch a black person in the privacy of jail cell. Back when I was young, anyone could to it out on the street. We have fallen so far.

  12. It’s a sad day when only the police can lynch a black person in the privacy of jail cell. Back when I was young, anyone could to it out on the street. We have fallen so far.

    1. Kinnath I am very familiar with the county and city in which Parrie View Am is located.

      I can tell you without reservation that if the cops had anything to do with this womans death that a black cop had a 50/50 chance of being the one who did it and a 100% chance of knowing about it. It’s a small place and there are too many black officers to hide this if it were racist white cops who did it.

      That it was a black woman being lynched by white racists cops meme won’t hold water here. The county sheriff’s office and the City of Waller police force are probably half black. City and County government workers are highly represented by blacks and elected officials have a large black voting populace to respond to.

      Those who get off to white racist cop memes are gonna have to jerk off on something else.

      1. Glad to hear some input from someone who knows a few truths about the place. Thank you for that.

  13. Is there video?

    I mean if she hung herself then what would be her motivation? Would it be that she was another left wing loon who was hoping to become a martyr? As I see it,,, there is a lot of ignorance on the Right and a lot of crazy on the Left?. Ignorance I can deal with and it is curable…

  14. Once again, a fine opportunity for Anonymous to show some leet skillz by hacking a system and releasing home addresses of these asses.

  15. I do not comment often, but the potential for slant here has me concerned. I understand that I am in the minority here when it comes to my position on police officers because I support them a good 90%. In this instance (as well as more than a few in recent history) I feel like the race-baiting media is attempting to whip up another frenzy.

    When has it ever been ok to become “combative” which does not mean mouthy but physically aggressive, with any person on the planet much less a public servant doing their job. According to the Chicago Tribune he wasn’t even issuing her a full citation, but rather just a warning for something that is actually a law (regardless of its necessity or lack there-of). It also suggests that she physically kicked him before he placed her under arrest.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/…..tml#page=1

    1. If she were being physically aggressive, that’s the way cops would’ve described her behavior. They would’ve claimed she was being “violent.” They didn’t. “Combative” means “inclined to fight,” like, for example, being “mean mouthy.”

      1. Yep. Police use “combative” in the same sense that every normal person uses the word “argumentative”.

    2. Until police start really, seriously cracking down on the “bad apples” among them, rather than closing ranks when one does something questionable, I will have a bias against the police in pretty much all cases and I don’t think that’s anything to be ashamed of. The only good cop is one who absolutely refuses to tolerate any misconduct in his colleagues. And I don’t see too many of them.

    3. When has it ever been ok to become “combative” which does not mean mouthy but physically aggressive, with any person on the planet much less a public servant doing their job.

      I’ll let you in on a little secret: the cops are lying through their lying teeth.

  16. When has it ever been ok to become “combative” which does not mean mouthy but physically aggressive, with any person on the planet much less a public servant doing their job.

    Well, when that other person is violating your rights by threatening you physically. perhaps?

  17. “video taken by a bystander of the initial traffic stop doesn’t appear to show Bland being combative”

    Huh? I watched the video, and at the start she is already on the ground with police standing over her, possibly in cuffs. She keeps up a steady, verbal tirade at the officers. Now as to what exactly led her to being in that position I do not know, as the video doesn’t show it.

  18. THIS IS NOT SUSPICIOUS AT ALL.

  19. A lot of commenters are focused on her arrest, which is suspect enough, but lets not forget she was found in her cell, dead.

    1. That jail has almost as many black officers as white and probably more black civilian employees than white.

      If this was a white racist cop murders poor black activist in her cell meme it has to be a brilliant cop who pulled it off without getting caught.

  20. I am a middle aged white male Texan. I have smoked dope, snorted coke and drank whiskey while chasing nookie on the city streets of Texas.

    I have had numerous interations with the cops in my younger wild days and have never been mistreated, disrepected ,or physically assaulted by any police force. I am always compliant and respectful when I interact with police authority. I am not a cop fellator. I get infuriated reading about some cop actions. The baby who had his face melted off from a stun gernade in Florida comes to mind.

    I know a guy who fits my same demographics who has been kicked, slapped, arrested, and has had his ass beat by cops more than once.

    The only significant difference between us is that he is, and has always been, a smart mouthed Yankee.

    Is it possible that that difference accounts for the different treatment we have received from the cops ?

    1. It might account for it, but it doesn’t justify it.

    2. The right to be a smart-mouthed Yankee shall not be infringed.

      Fuck the police.

  21. In general, I have had decent treatment from cops. Some white cops even gave me a break on a couple of occasions. But there were enough times, especially as I got older into my late 20s, 30s, where I experienced unwarranted rudeness from cops(again, not all the time). The rudeness seemed to get worse whenever I was with a black or Indian male friend. But I gotta say, the rudeness went up even more when I was with a blonde girlfriend and my head was buzzed giving me an African American look.

    I will say this. I am going to guess the victim mouthed off to the cops a little bit. From the video, it doesn’t look like a high traffic area. While I am a stickler for turn signals, I can understand if it is a low traffic area with no one right behind you. Even if she truly didn’t signal, I would consider it a very low scale offense. At some point, the cops has to learn not to escalate a situation. Give your ticket and move on.

    I just can’t see this lady getting out of the car on her own with a body language that indicated she was going to be of any threat to the cop. And considering the cop already threatened to violate the rights of the guy taking the video, it is not a stretch to think he is the type to mischaracterize what happened between him and the victim.

    Did she commit sucide? I am not sure. But if she was driven to suicide , blame the cop for escalating what should have been a minor situation.

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