Texas police have released video taken from inside the county jail during the last minutes of Sandra Bland’s life as activists claimed that the traffic stop that led to her imprisonment escalated into a confrontation because a trooper was angry that she was smoking.
The footage is three hours long but does not provide a clear view of cell 95 at the Waller county jail, where officials say the 28-year-old was found hanged on 13 July, three days after she was arrested for alleged assault on a public servant.
The camera is motion-activated and stops recording after 15 seconds without detectable movement, according to authorities, meaning there is more than nine minutes of time unrecorded. The inside of cell 95, at the end of a hallway and in the top right corner of the picture, is not visible. Officials said that the tape showed there was no movement down the hallway to Bland’s cell for the 90 minutes prior to her body being discovered.
Brian Cantrell of the Waller county sheriff’s office said that at 7.05am Bland was “in good health” and told the jailer “I’m fine”. At 7.55am, he said, she contacted a controller via a phone in the cell to ask if she could make a phone call.
At 8.58am, he said, an officer went to the cell to ask if she wanted to go to the recreation hall. She was found partially hanging from the privacy partition, next to the toilet, “in a semi-standing position with the ligature around her neck” and her feet on the ground. Officers then placed her on the floor, performed CPR and sought emergency medical help, Cantrell said. Several are shown hurriedly walking to and from the cell.
Cantrell said the cause of death was “self-inflicted asphyxiation” with an ordinary plastic trash bag. He said that in the wake of Bland’s death all trash bags had been removed from the jail’s cells.