At Least 5 Black Women Have Died in Police Custody in July; WTF?!

Sandra Bland, Kindra Chapman, Joyce Curnell, Ralkina Jones and Raynette Turner were all found dead in their cells after being arrested by local authorities.

Top row: Raynette Turner; Joyce Curnell; Sandra Bland. Bottom row: Ralkina Jones; Kindra Chapman.
Top row: Raynette Turner; Joyce Curnell; Sandra Bland. Bottom row: Ralkina Jones; Kindra Chapman. Top row: Twitter. Bottom row: 13 Action News; YouTube screenshot.

It’s been a little over two weeks since Sandra Bland was discovered dead in her Texas jail cell from what authorities say was a suicide.

In those 17 days since Bland’s controversial death, which has sparked social media fury and a plethora of unanswered questions, at least four more black women have died while in custody. Most of them were in jail for two days maximum. Most of them were being held on minor charges like shoplifting and were waiting to see a judge. Some of them suffered health issues. All of them should have been going home. All of them were fairly young, and all of them leave behind families and a community with questions, including, “What happened?”

Here’s what we know about the five:

1. Sandra Bland

Bland’s case is probably the most prominent, since not only was it the first incident to take place in July, but it is also the one with the murkiest details, garnering the most suspicion.

The 28-year-old was pulled over by a Texas trooper on July 10, reportedly after failing to signal a lane change. The trooper, identified as Brian Encinia, is seen in dash-cam footage telling Bland that he would “light [her] up” if she did not step out of her vehicle. Bland was arrested on a charge of assaulting an officer after Encinia claimed that she kicked him. That alleged kick was not caught on the dash-cam footage because the pair were out of view.

Bland was eventually booked at a Waller County, Texas, jail. Three days later, she was found hanging in her cell, according to police officials. Officials and a preliminary autopsy ruled the hanging a suicide, indicating no sign of struggle.

However, friends and family have dismissed the notion, saying that Bland wouldn’t kill herself. Some have outright accused the police of foul play. There were even rumors circulating that Bland may have been dead in her mug shot, leading to death threats against officials, which prompted a new video to be released to show that Bland was “alive and well” when she arrived at the jail, according to police officials.

Several questions remain about Bland’s death, and her family has ordered an independent autopsy in hopes of learning more. The Texas Rangers and the FBI are both involved in the case.

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