The autopsy of a black woman who was found dead in a Texas jail has revealed no injuries that would suggest she was killed by someone else, authorities have said.
The announcement came on Thursday, ten days after 28-year-old Sandra Bland’s death on July 13. Bland had been arrested three days earlier in a traffic stop for allegedly refusing to follow a policeman’s orders.
Bland’s family and friends dispute the official finding that she killed herself using a noose fashioned from a plastic rubbish bag.
Warren Diepraam, Waller County prosecutor, said the autopsy showed that some lacerations or abrasions were found on her wrists, but those were consistent with a struggle while being handcuffed.
The marks around Bland’s neck were consistent with a suicide by hanging, Diepraam said.
Bland also had about 30 small cuts on her wrist that were probably self-inflicted within the last few weeks, he added.
On Thursday, the woman’s sister confirmed that Bland had taken prescription medication for seizures in the past.
A video posted online on Tuesday by the Texas Department of Public Safety shows a trooper pulling over the Bland for not signalling when changing lanes.
After issuing a ticket, the conversation quickly turns hostile when the officer asks Bland to put out her cigarette and she asks why she can’t smoke in her own car
As the action moves off camera, Bland can be heard saying the trooper slammed her head to the ground.
Booking documents, filled out for Bland after her arrest, indicate she told staff at the jail that she had epilepsy and was taking medication for it. The forms identify the drug as Keppra.
Other forms, however, say she was not taking medication.
Company information on Keppra, which is sold in regular and extended-release forms, says that “anti-epileptic drugs, including Keppra and Keppra XR, may cause suicidal thoughts or actions in a very small number of people, about one in 500”.
The medication was not the only inconsistency in the jail-intake papers.
One questionnaire said Bland took pills in 2015 in an attempt to kill herself after losing a baby. A separate form filled out by another jail employee said the suicide attempt occurred in 2014.
Cooper said her sister had a miscarriage in May 2014, but got through it. Cooper also said she was not aware of any suicide attempt.
Asked if her sister could have been getting treatment without relatives knowing, Cooper said the family’s five sisters were “above board” with each other and, if anything, “overshared”.
“If it was happening, I would have known,” she said.
A woman who occupied a jail cell next to Bland said the Chicago-area woman was emotional and wept often during her three days in jail.
Alexandria Pyle told Houston television station KTRK that Bland was “sort of distraught” that a friend had not come to bail her out of jail. She said Bland told her she “was not equipped” for incarceration and thought she was the victim of an injustice.
Pyle said she heard no signs of a struggle in the cell.
Preliminary results of the autopsy also showed that Bland had marijuana in her system. The drug-test results are worth noting because they could be “relevant to her state of mind,” Diepraam said.
Authorities said any contradictions in the jail documents were the result of Bland’s inconsistent answers to jailers’ questions.