The autopsy rules Bland's death in custody as suicide by hanging

By Adam Carlson
Updated July 25, 2015 10:40 AM
Credit: Courtesy Sandra Bland

Sandra Bland hung herself with a white trash bag, tied with a slip knot, according to evidence documented in her autopsy report.

There was also evidence of about 25-30 linear superficial wounds on her left forearm ranging in lengths up to 1 inch, according to the report, which was conducted on July 14 and released publicly Friday.

The parallel forearm wounds were faint and scabbed, according to the report. Prosecutors said Thursday they believe the wounds were self-inflicted.

Bland, 28, was found dead in her jail cell on July 13, three days after being pulled over in Waller County, Texas, for a traffic violation – and officials have maintained that she killed herself, citing evidence of depression and a suicide attempt last year.

But family and friends have repeatedly challenged that explanation, arguing that she was not emotionally unstable and that it makes no sense that her arrest, triggered by a minor violation, ended in her death.

Bland family attorney Cannon Lambert told Reuters the autopsy was “defective.”

“The family’s confidence is shaken by the continued discrepancies that are surfacing,” Lambert said.

In addition to the “uniform” furrow on Bland’s neck and cut wounds on her forearm, the autopsy also documented contusions and abrasions on her back, arm and elbow – but did not find defensive injuries on her hands indicating a struggle, prosecutors said Thursday.

The autopsy did note abrasions to Bland’s wrists, consistent with struggling while handcuffed.

The autopsy included an examination of her internal organs and skeletal system. It noted no other injuries.

In dashcam video of her July 10 arrest, Bland’s interaction with the officer escalates quickly after he orders her to put out her cigarette while she is sitting in the driver’s seat. At one point, while both are out of view of the camera, there are sounds of a struggle, reports The New York Times. “You just slammed me, knocked my head into the ground,” she says.

Bland was charged with assaulting an officer, according to Reuters. That officer, Brian Encinia, was suspended for violating procedure and the “courtesy policy” during the stop, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

A report obtained by CNN shows jail guards failed to perform timely checks on the inmates around the time Bland was in custody.

“I feel comfortable that [the] findings are correct, but there’s still a lot of information out there, so we’re not forming any conclusions at this point,” Waller County prosecutor Warren Diepraam told CNN. “Nothing is certain.”

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