There’s a particular irony with the sister of Sandra Bland, Sharon Cooper, going on television to state she blames the Waller County Texas jail for her sister’s demise, when Sharon Cooper refused to aid Sandra while she was in jail for 3 days.
According to media reports the jail cell had a phone within it for use, and additionally allowed Ms. Bland to make at least five phone calls while she was held from a police desk outside her cell because she was having trouble with the phone.
You can hear one of those calls here.
Apparently, Ms. Bland was trying to put together $500 for a bond payment and none of her family, including her sister Sharon, were willing to assist.
Additionally, NBC in Chicago has found that Ms. Bland had a rather extensive history with driving violations including DUI’s and failure to pay fines associated with at least 10 infractions.
NBC5 Investigates has found that – at the time of her death last Friday — she still owed a total of $7,579.00 in court fines resulting from five traffic stops in various Chicago suburbs (including a DUI), and she had been cited several times for her failure to pay those fines.
[…] March of 2013 – Bland was stopped in Crestwood Township while driving a 2013 Cadillac DeVille and received two citations – for speeding 21-25 mph above the limit, and for operating an uninsured motor vehicle. She was fined $200, which – according to Cook County Court records – has not been paid.
November of 2013 – A report in a suburban newspaper says that Bland was arrested in Naperville; charged on a warrant, and transported to DuPage County Jail. The news report does not say what the warrant was for.
February of 2014 – Bland was stopped by Lombard Police and charged with operating an uninsured motor vehicle and driving with expired license plates. She was convicted in both charges and fined, but by May of 2014 court records show that she still owed $2,769.00 in fines, and the judge ordered that the Illinois Secretary of State be notified of her failure to pay.
March 3, 2014 – Naperville Police cited Bland for operating an uninsured motor vehicle. Court records show she was ordered to pay a fine, but was cited twice for failure to pay. In June of 2014 the court ordered that the Illinois Secretary of State be notified, and the docket lists a $1,313.00 balance still due.
March 8, 2014 – Approximately five days after her stop in Naperville, Bland was stopped by police in Lombard and charged with two counts of driving under the influence; speeding 15-20 mph over the speed limit; improper lane usage; disobeying a traffic control signal; failing to signal when changing lanes; driving on a suspended license, and operating an uninsured motor vehicle. The court found her guilty of one DUI charge, and all the other charges were dismissed. She received court supervision and was fined, and court records show that she still owes $3,132.00 in this case. (A spokesman with the Illinois Secretary of State’s office says Bland’s driver’s license was automatically suspended for six months – until November of 2014 – as a result of this DUI conviction.)
During that suspension – in May of 2014 – Naperville Police cited Bland for speeding 15-20 mph over the limit. According to the DuPage County court docket, Bland “fail[ed] to comply” in the case in June of 2014 and again in August of 2014, when the court ordered the Illinois Secretary of State to be notified. Records show a $45.00 balance due in this case, though a court spokesman says the actual amount owed is $165.00. The outcome in this case is not clear.
These notifications would have come up when Bland next tried to renew her license, according to the Illinois Secretary of State spokesman, and she would be required to pay all balances due. NBC5 Investigates found five other police encounters involving Sandra Bland ranging from 2010 back to 2004 (read more)
In addition, despite Sandra Bland self-reporting a previous 2014 attempt at suicide following the loss of a baby – her family says they are unaware of such an incident.
Meanwhile initial reports of the autopsy show she Ms. Bland had been cutting herself (scars), and had considerable levels of marijuana in her system.
It would appear a disconnected family, and the sense of isolation, might very well have led to an overpowering sense of desperation – ultimately resulting in her suicide while in jail.
[…] Waller County Dist. Atty. Elton Mathis has said officials are investigating the death as if it were murder, in order to leave no aspect unexamined.
Mosley and others have called for federal officials to take over the investigation.
“We have heard her voice and heard her charge us not to rest,” said the Rev. David Madison, pastor at Greater Ward AME Church in Houston, who helped coordinate and lead Bland’s memorial. “She did not drive all the way from Illinois to hang herself. There is no way. They’re really insulting our intelligence.”
Mosley recalled how unnerved Bland was by the killing of young black people at the hands of police. (link)