Who is at fault?

By: Quaneisha Hall

Issue:

Sandra Bland died in a jail cell in Texas in July 2015.

Background:

A black woman’s controversial arrest after a traffic violation in Texas was filmed by a police dash-camera. Days later, Sandra Bland died in jail. The Waller County prosecutor’s autopsy ruled her death as a suicide, but others questioned her death and wondered if there was foul play.

Facts:

At about 7 a.m. on Monday, July 13, 2015, Sandra Bland’s breakfast was delivered to her in the Waller county jail. This was the last time she was seen alive.

Controversy:

While the Waller County prosecutor’s autopsy ruled her death as a suicide, Sandra’s friends and family were not satisfied with the results. They felt that Sandra would not have taken her own life. One friend said, “Sandra was strong. Strong mentally and spiritually”.


At a news conference in Chicago, Bland’s sister told reporters that she couldn’t believe her sister would take her own life. She said, “based on the Sandra that I knew, that’s unfathomable to me.” Bland’s sisters said that they had a telephone conversation with her after she was taken into custody in which she sounded fine. Bland’s family sent a statement to Cannon Lambert, the family’s attorney, “the family of Sandra Bland is confident that she was killed and did not commit suicide.”

Public Opinion:

The controversy surrounding this case inspired us to interview people at WCMHS to find out what they thought about police brutality against black victims in particular. We interviewed 12 people (of all ages) at WCMHS about the Sandra Bland case.


First, we asked our volunteer interviewees if they knew about the Sandra Bland controversy. Then, we showed them our summary of the case. Next, we showed them the video of Sandra’s arrest. Finally, we asked them their opinion on what happened. The answers ranged from brief comments to well-thought out ideas and input. Here is what we found.

1) Based on this report, who do you think is at fault?

  • I don’t know the complete story, but I don’t understand the force used over a traffic stop.
  • I think it’s the arresting officer’s fault.
  • People think their loved ones wouldn’t commit suicide.
  • I think it’s the officer’s fault.
  • I think it’s the officer’s fault.
  • I think it’s the officer’s fault.
  • Her fault that she got arrested but I don’t know why she died. I need more evidence on video.
  • The jail she was in.
  • Arrest officer
  • Police
  • Police’s
  • Police need to communicate and treat people right and use a Taser instead of guns instead of trying to kill them.

2) Does watching the video of Sandra’s arrest change your opinion at all?

  • It seems excessive force wasn’t necessary from the brief footage I saw.
  • Nope not at all.
  • If she wasn’t arrested, she would still be alive.
  • No
  • Yes, someone needs to be able to look at the officers when they pull people over.
  • Still think it’s the police fault.
  • They pinned her to the ground; that was bad.
  • No, she was strong and bold she wasn’t going to bawl down.
  • People are treated different when dealing with race, but race shouldn’t matter.
  • Yes, they killed her
  • No, because I think the man did something to her.
  • I don’t understand why she had so many days (incarcerated) for having an attitude with the police.

3) Does knowing that Sandra Bland took illegal drugs influence your opinion?

  • I don’t think whether a person uses drugs or not should cause an officer to use force.
  • No, because if she did take illegal drugs, it doesn’t mean he should’ve done that.
  • Yes, people that take drugs sometimes commit suicide.
  • No drugs didn’t have anything to do with it.
  • Just because she was a black female, police assumed that she was wrong.
  • No
  • No blood work?
  • I don’t think she was on drugs when she was in jail.
  • No, we all done things we’re not proud of.
  • No because drugs don’t have anything to do with it.
  • No, because drugs weren’t involved with the arrest.
  • The police officer and Sandra could have handled it in a better way.

4) Police brutality has become a controversial issue. What do you think can be done (realistically) to prevent this type of treatment in the future?

  • I think that respect should be issued on both sides, and parties should follow the rules. I also think there should be another officer riding with them.
  • More police training.
  • Better training of the police officer and better looking at people in custody.
  • Do more background checks and view any citizen complaints about arrests.
  • Yes, let the person who was involved have a chance to speak their rights and wrong. People always think that the police officers are in the right because they are uniform, but they can be wrong too.
  • Female officer should be present or called to the scene. Legal response lawyer should be called at any time.
  • Body camera, hall way and more cameras in the building.
  • I don’t know
  • Education of law enforcement; have more interaction with each other
  • More cameras and better police watch.
  • Police need to keep their hands to their self.
  • Keep the people in front of the cameras where the action is taking place at.

Information taken from: