Sandra Bland Drove to Texas to Start a New Job, so How Did She End Up Dead in Jail?

Police claim that the Illinois woman became combative after she was pulled over for a traffic stop. They arrested her, and two days later she was found dead in her jail cell. Bland’s family and friends suspect foul play.


On July 9, 28-year-old Sandra Bland of Naperville, Ill., drove to Texas to start a new job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M. On July 10, police stopped Bland just outside the campus for allegedly failing to signal while changing lanes. Police claim that during the stop she became combative, was thrown to the ground, arrested and charged with “assault on a public servant.” 

On July 13, around 9 a.m., before her family could bail her out, Bland was found dead inside a Waller County, Texas, jail cell. Police claim she died from “self-inflicted asphyxiation.” Her family and friends say that is impossible; that the woman they know, who fought strongly against police brutality and had just gotten a new job, would never have committed suicide.  

“I do suspect foul play,” a friend, Cheryl Nanton, told ABC 7. “I believe that we are all 100 percent in belief that she did not do harm to herself.”

Video obtained by ABC 7 of Bland’s arrest doesn’t appear to show Bland being combative with officers, but does show two officers on top of Bland, who can be heard questioning the officers’ methods of restraint.

“You just slammed my head into the ground,” Bland can be heard saying on the recording. “Do you not even care about that? I can’t even hear.” As she is being escorted to the police car in handcuffs, Bland can be heard yelling, “Slammed me to the ground and everything!”

Shortly afterward, an officer can be heard telling the person recording the incident that he or she needed to leave.

Malcom Jackson, a friend of Bland’s who witnessed the encounter, told the news station that the police were forceful during the entirety of the traffic stop.

“After he pulled her out of the car, forced her and tossed her to the ground, knee to the neck, and arrested her,” he said.

Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith told ABC 7 that during the traffic stop, Bland became combative with the officer and was arrested and charged with assault.