CHICAGO (CBS) — New information could shed more light on the death of Sandra Bland, of Naperville, who was arrested nearly two weeks ago in Waller County, Texas, and then was found dead three days later in her jail cell.
Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis told CBS News reports he ordered an autopsy are not true, but a toxicology report revealed she had a substantial amount of marijuana in her system when she died. He also told CNN autopsy results indicate she had cutting scars on her arm.
The family has hired a medical examiner to conduct an independent autopsy, but the results of that autopsy have not yet been released.
Meantime, newly released booking documents reveal Bland told a deputy at the Waller County jail in Hempstead, Texas, that she once tried to kill herself within the last year by taking pills after she had a miscarriage.
In her handwritten jail intake form, there are check marks in the “yes” category next to questions asking if she ever felt very depressed, or if she feels that way now. In a computer-generated form produced a few hours later, the same questions are marked “no,” though both forms do show Bland previously attempted suicide.
Despite that, jail officials never placed her on suicide watch.
The Texas Commission on Jail Standards has found the cell where Bland died to be deficient and non-compliant with minimum jail standards. The commission said guards were not properly trained in suicide prevention procedures, and failed to observe Bland at least once an hour while she was in her cell, as required.
After she was jailed, Bland apparently called her friend, Lavaughn Mosley, and left a voicemail message, which was obtained by a Houston television station, but has not been independently verified by CBS News.
“They have me at a $5,000 bond. I’m still just at a loss for words, honestly, about this whole process. How did switching lanes with no signal turn into all of this? I don’t even know,” she apparently said.
The Waller County Sheriff’s office has said Bland committed suicide by hanging herself with plastic trash bags, but Mathis has said it’s too early to determine if her death was a suicide or homicide, and he is treating the case like a murder investigation. Mathis has said he will send the case to a grand jury to decide the manner of Bland’s death.
The Texas Rangers and FBI are investigating, but Hempstead Mayor Michael Wolfe Sr. said he’s worried many people already have made up their minds about a case still under investigation.
“We don’t have these issues that are being presented in terms of extreme racist tensions,” he said.
Bland’s family and friends have said they don’t believe she would kill herself.
“She was making plans to get out of jail,” Mosely said.
Bland had been arrested on July 10, after a routine traffic stop became heated, when both Bland and the state trooper who pulled her over began shouting at each other, and Bland ignored repeated orders to get out of her car, until the trooper threatened to use his stun gun.
“Quite frankly, I’m disgusted that we’re even having a discussion about an autopsy, because she was pulled over for something so insignificant, and because of an officer who felt like maybe his ego was bruised, but 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,” said her sister, Sharon Cooper.
Bland’s family said they won’t comment any more, as they are preparing for her funeral on Monday in Lisle.