HEMPSTEAD, Texas – A black woman found dead in a Southeast Texas jail three days after a traffic-stop confrontation with a white officer hanged herself using a clear plastic bag tied into a slip knot, according to an autopsy report released Friday.
The medical examiner’s report, which the Waller County District Attorney’s Office made public, corroborates findings prosecutors detailed a day earlier about the death of 28-year-old Sandra Bland.
Authorities have said the bag was tied to an overhead steel partition of the jail cell where Bland died. The “circular area” of the bag formed by the slip knot was about 6½ inches in diameter, wrote Dr. Sara Doyle, who signed the report.
The report released Friday did not address toxicology, saying only that blood and urine and other specimens have been sent for additional tests. Prosecutors have said results could take weeks.
Preliminary results show Bland had marijuana in her system, a finding that could be “relevant to her state of mind,” assistant district attorney Warren Diepraam has said.
Diepraam said there were “approximately 25 to 30 horizontal faint … linear superficial incised wounds” up to an inch long on her body. He said they were likely self-inflicted, weeks earlier.
Relatives and supporters have disputed that the death could have been a suicide. Waller County officials have said there is no evidence to suggest otherwise but have welcomed an investigation led by the FBI and involving numerous local and state agencies.
Bland died three days after her arrest on July 10, when a state trooper pulled her over near Prairie View A&M University for making an improper lane change. The stop, captured on the patrol car dash camera video, escalated to an assault arrest when the officer, who is white, said Bland kicked him.
Bland’s funeral is set for Saturday in suburban Chicago, where she lived.
Dashcam video from the Texas Department of Public Safety: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaW09Ymr2BA