Cause of in-custody death three days after arrest remains ruled a suicide
Some of you may recall the 2015 arrest and subsequent apparent jailhouse suicide three days later of Sandra Bland, about whom I wrote at the time here at Legal Insurrection:
No indictment in Sandra Bland jail death (12/22/15)
In summary, Bland was the subject of a traffic stop that should have been routine but which became confrontational, in the course of which Bland became increasingly non-compliant with lawful instructions from the officer, resulting in her arrest. Three days later, still in jail, she would be found dead in her cell from an apparent suicide.
It has become common practice by the racial grievance industry to recite a list of names of individuals who were, they claim, wrongfully killed by police or others, presumably because the “victims” were black and therefore racism. This list typically consists of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and others.
What’s most notable about each of these cases, of course, is that everyone was either (1) a lawful use of defensive or law enforcement force or (2) unlawful use of force in which the person who used that force was held legally accountable. In other words, the system worked.
The Sandra Bland case is a bit different, in that there is literally zero evidence that Bland’s death was caused by any unlawful force by anyone, much less by the arrest three days before her death. Rather, the evidence is that Bland simply killed herself. This remains true after a comprehensive investigation by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
So why was Bland’s case ever news, and why has it become news again this week? Because of the two videos that captured not her death, but her arrest, which led to her incarceration, during which she apparently killed herself, and the “release” this week of one of those videos—the one captured by Bland herself on her cell phone—by Bland’s family. The second video is that of the arresting officer’s dash camera.
I’ve embedded here a combination of both videos, with the larger image being that of the dash camera video and the smaller inset image in the lower left, starting at about the 1:53 mark, that of Bland’s cell phone video. As you’ll see, the cell phone video doesn’t add much to dash camera video. (The total video lasts 5 minutes and 40 seconds; Bland’s portion is a mere 40 seconds).
It’s worth mentioning that the cell phone video is not “new” to anyone, as it was part of the Texas DPS investigation and was released to the Bland family long ago during discovery in their civil suit over Bland’s death. The cell phone video is only “new” in the sense that the family has just now chosen to release it to the media during a slow news week.
One could perhaps make a straight-faced argument that the officer who arrested Bland used poor judgment in doing so, and perhaps even exceeded his authority in making the arrest, although that latter is not a very strong argument, as noted in my July 24, 2015 post linked above.
Note that there is no allegation, absolutely none, by anyone, that any force used in her arrest had anything to do with her death three days later, so in fact, the arrest has nothing substantive to do with her death at all. Zip, zero, nada, nothing.
The “new” cell phone video doesn’t change that one bit, as the cell phone video is not evidence of anything that could have led to Bland’s death three days later.
Despite the Texas DPS investigation revealing no criminal conduct with respect to Bland’s death, and the refusal of a Texas grand jury to indict anyone with respect to her death, Waller County, where Bland was incarcerated, agreed to a $1.9 million settlement with Bland’s family in 2016.
It is, of course, common for politicians to spend other people’s money to make politically unpleasant allegations, however unfounded and lacking in merit, go away.
You may be wondering why anyone would bother to “release” the cell phone video this week, given that the family has already received a couple of million in settlement money and the criminal investigation of the matter has long since been concluded.
If you know the answer to that question feel free to share it in the comments.
Attorney Andrew F. Branca
Law of Self Defense LLC
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