Dash Cam Video Of Sandra Bland’s Traffic Stop Shows She Was Arrested After State Trooper Told Her To Put Out Her Cigarette

It has been a week since Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old Black woman who was arrested after a routine traffic stop in the Houston area, was found dead in her jail cell. Her death has been ruled a suicide by hanging, but her family and friends dispute that and have requested their own independent autopsy be done; the results are expected in the coming days. In the meantime, a lawyer representing the Bland family has reviewed dash cam video taken of Bland’s entire encounter with the Texas state trooper who arrested her. The video offers more information about how Bland went from being pulled over for a minor traffic violation to being arrested for assault on a public servant — an assault, by the way, that does not appear to have occurred.

What Happened To Sandra Bland?
Another day, another Black American killed while in police custody.

According to the lawyer, Cannon Lambert, the video shows that after running her license and registration, the state trooper — who has not been identified — returned to Bland’s car with what appeared to be a written warning. The state trooper then, for reasons unknown, told Bland to put out her cigarette, and she refused, saying, “Why do I have to put out a cigarette when I’m in my own car?” The state trooper, pissed off that she dared refuse to follow an order he had no right to give, ordered Bland to get out of her car. Bland “wasn’t comfortable getting out of the car,” Lambert said, so the trooper “looked to force her to get out of the car by way of opening the door and started demanding that she do.” There was no clear reason conveyed to Bland for why she needed to exit her vehicle, given that the reason she was pulled over in the first place had been dealt with. According to the police, Bland became “argumentative” and was then arrested for “assault.” Assault with what? WORDS? Jesus fucking Christ.

So, let’s review. A Black woman is pulled over for a minor traffic violation, the kind of thing you and I and everyone we could possibly ever know will experience at some point or another. After running her information, the officer was either going to let her off with a written warning or maybe a ticket. But then, for reasons that are not clear but I’m going to guess have everything to do with a huge boner for flexing his authority, he told her to put out her cigarette, which Bland was smoking in her own car. Bland dared to question his authority over her inhalation of legal tobacco products and he demanded she exit her vehicle, the reason for which, again, he did not make clear. When she continued to argue with him over his nonsensical demands, he made up a reason to arrest her. She — again, a woman who at worst committed a minor traffic violation — sat in a jail cell for THREE DAYS and on the third day she was found dead.

HOW? WHY?

Her death has been ruled a suicide and a three-month-old social media post saying she was depressed has been held up as evidence. I’m not going to rule out the possibility that Bland may have wrestled with mental health issues, as depression is an insidious bastard, her family and friends are steadfast in their belief that she would never take her own life. My hope for them is that the independent autopsy offers up some sort of conclusive information on how this woman died and if there was any evidence of foul play. But regardless, the fact that this woman was even arrested, let alone jailed for three days, for refusing to put out a cigarette she was smoking in her own car, is a fucking travesty that led to an unbelievable tragedy. And she deserves justice.

[NBC News]