Waller County District Attorney: Sandra Bland’s Death Being Treated ‘Like a Murder Investigation’


Despite police reports that Sandra Bland committed suicide three days after being arrested during a routine traffic stop, the Waller County, Texas, district attorney told news reporters that he is treating the incident "like a murder investigation."


Bland, 28, was stopped July 10 in Prairie View, Texas, by a state trooper for reportedly failing to use a signal when switching lanes. She was arrested and charged with assaulting the officer and was found dead in her jail cell three days later. Police claim that Bland used a trash bag to hang herself.

"This is being treated like a murder investigation," Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said Monday evening, according to Good Morning America via Yahoo News. "I want fingerprints run. I want … DNA tests run on the trash bag."

Mathis also wants "any other valid scientific testing that we have so we can say with certainty what happened in her cell," GMA notes.

"There are too many questions that still need to be resolved," Mathis added.

Police dash-cam video of Sandra Bland's July 10 arrest shows a different story than the one police told, according to the Bland family's lawyer, Cannon Lambert, who viewed the video.

Lambert, who spoke to NBC News along with Bland's sister, told the news station that tension between Bland and the officer became heightened when Bland refused to put out a cigarette.

It is unclear whether Bland was smoking when the officer first approached to take her license and proof of insurance. The trooper ran Bland's license and insurance and returned to her car to issue a written warning, NBC News reports. According to Lambert, the trooper demanded that Bland put out a cigarette that she was smoking.


An agitated Bland asked, according to Lambert, " 'Why do I have to put out a cigarette when I'm in my own car?' And that seemed to irritate him to the point where he said, 'Get out of the car,'" Lambert told NBC News. 

Bland, who was in the process of moving to the area after having taken a job with her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University, "wasn't comfortable getting out of the car," Lambert told the news station. So the trooper "looked to force her to get out of the car by way of opening the door and started demanding that she do."


Lambert added that there was "no clear understanding why she had to get out of the car in the first place. It is a routine traffic stop."

According to NBC News, Lambert told The Tom Joyner Morning Show in a separate interview that after the trooper demanded that Bland leave her car, she reached for her cellphone in an attempt to record the incident. The trooper reportedly pointed his Taser at Bland, and at that point she exited the vehicle.


Authorities have said that Bland was uncooperative from the time she was pulled over and that she was arrested on a charge of assault on a public servant. Lambert said that Bland was clearly agitated about being asked to exit the vehicle, but he did not mention whether Bland assaulted the officer.  

Bland was found dead in the Waller County Jail three days after the traffic stop, with authorities reporting that Bland died from self-inflicted asphyxiation, a claim that Bland's family strongly disputes.


The family has asked for an independent autopsy.

"There are concerns regarding the findings already, that we've communicated previously, so we are doing our own due diligence," Lambert told NBC News. "We want to understand what happened, we want to know what happened and we want to know why."


Read more at Yahoo News and NBC News.