The death of civil rights and police accountability activist Sandra Bland is now being treated as a murder, according to a Texas district attorney.
The statement came Monday, after police blamed Sandra for her own death over the past week.
“There are many questions being raised about this case. It needs a thorough and exhaustive review,” Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said during a news conference Monday evening.
“This is being treated like a murder investigation,” Mathis said at the press conference, according to the Texas Tribune.
“While the Harris County medical examiner ruled her death consistent with a suicide,” the Tribune added, “Mathis said it is now being treated as a murder,” even after the medical examiner’s ruling.
“There are too many questions that need to be resolved. Ms. Bland’s family does make valid points. She did have a lot of things going on in her life for good,” Mathis said.
Still in denial that they might be held accountable for this crime, Waller County Sheriff’s Office Captain of Patrol Brian Cantrell, however, said at the same conference that the death was a suicide.
“I want to make clear that the death of Ms. Bland was a tragic incident — not one of criminal intent or a criminal act,” he stated.
Cantrell doubled down on the police narrative that Bland, 28, had “strangled herself with a jail cell trash bag,” MSNBC reported.
Sandra’s family disputes all of this and they are demanding an independent autopsy.
“Ms. Bland’s family did make valid points that she did have a lot of things going on in her life that were good,” Mathis stated, adding that it is “too early to make any kind of determination that this is a suicide or a murder.”
After all the evidence has been turned over, he says it will be presented before a grand jury.
MSNBC reported Monday, that “Mathis said one of the things he will consider closely is if there was any DNA or fingerprints other than Bland’s on the trash bag that was found around her neck.”
Video from the Waller County Jail was released Monday night, and dashboard camera footage from the traffic stop that led to Bland’s arrest will be released Tuesday, officials said.
The lawyer representing Bland’s family said the stop for a routine traffic violation became confrontational when Bland was asked to put out her cigarette. The lawyer, Cannon Lambert, told NBC News that the state trooper “looked to force her to get out of the car by way of opening the door and started demanding that she do.”
Mathis said video of the stop shows Bland became “combative.” She was charged with assaulting a public servant, which landed her in a “high risk” section of the jail “for the safety of other inmates,” Cantell said.
Bland’s family explains they “want to understand what happened, we want to know what happened and we want to know why,” Lambert explained.
UPDATE: On July 23rd, the Waller County District Attorney accepted the suicide ruling of the coroner, but as of July 27th, an outside prosecutor has been brought in on this case. The case remains open and is being investigated by the Texas Department of Public Safety as well as the Texas Rangers and FBI.
(Article by Jackson Marciana)