Apparent voicemail may shed new light in Sandra Bland case
There are new questions about the mental state of Sandra Bland, the woman found dead in her Texas jail cell. While Bland's family disputes the notion she was suicidal and suspects foul play was involved in her death, officials released Bland's booking forms that showed she admitted she felt depressed and once attempted suicide.
In an apparent voicemail Bland left for a friend, obtained by Houston station KTRK, Bland also seemed frustrated to be behind bars, reports CBS News' Omar Villafranca.
"They got me set at a $5,000 bond. I'm just still at a loss for words about this whole process, how this switching lanes with no signal turned into all of this, I don't even know," Bland apparently said.
Bland's friend, Lavaughn Mosley, told the station it's her voice, but CBS News has not been able to independently verify it.
"We know for a certainty that before she went into that jail, she was ecstatic," Bland family attorney Cannon Lambert said. "She had left messages with her loved ones and that just does not jive with someone who would take her own life."
Meanwhile, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis told CBS News that reports he ordered a new autopsy are not true. However, he's asked that Bland's body be preserved after a toxicology report revealed a substantial amount of marijuana in her system at the time of her death.
And in a statement late Wednesday, Waller County First Assistant District Attorney Warren Diepraam said, "The District Attorney's Office has full faith in the findings of the Harris County Medical Examiner's Autopsy and finding."
He added, "This false information (about the request for the new autopsy) arises from new evidence revealed today that Ms. Bland had a substantial amount of marijuana in her system at the time of her death.
"A request was made by the DA to the civil lawyer to preserve the body due to this new toxicological evidence. ... We are not seeking a delay in any funeral services, simply that [family members] preserve the body for any possible additional testing that may be needed as a result of this new toxicological evidence. We are not requesting and have never requested a second autopsy."
The newly released booking documents shed light on what happened to Bland from her arrest July 10th to her mysterious death in jail three days later.
After she was taken into custody, a deputy at the Waller County jail asked her questions about her medical history. Bland disclosed she once tried to kill herself with pills following a miscarriage. She also reported feeling depressed but denied having suicidal thoughts.
About three hours later, Bland was given a suicide assessment by a jailer. That time, Bland said she was not feeling suicidal and no longer felt depressed. Once again, she reported the previous suicide attempt.
But when the jailer filled out the report, she wrote that Bland had never attempted suicide.
Bland's family flew back to Illinois with her body Wednesday and tried to keep the focus on the actions of the arresting officer, trooper Brian Encinia.
"She was pulled over for something so insignificant and because of an officer who felt like maybe that his ego was bruised. ... When you tell me that you're going to 'light' me up, I feel extremely threatened and concerned, and I'm not going to get out of my car," Bland's sister, Sharon Cooper, said.
Mathis agreed the arrest was troubling.
"When I first saw the dashcam video, I thought ... 'This is not what I want to see out of a law enforcement officer.' And in that same respect ... saw Ms. Bland and would have just wished she would have cooperated," Mathis said.
On Wednesday, the district attorney released another version of the dashcam video of her arrest, after questions were raised about whether the first version had been edited. Authorities said technical glitches made the first video appear altered.
The results from an independent autopsy ordered by the Bland family still haven't been released. They say they are waiting for the investigation into her death to be completed and are considering a wrongful death suit.
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