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Sandra Bland 'Previously Attempted Suicide,' Jail Documents Littered With Discrepancies Say

The 28-year-old black woman who died in a Texas jail had 'previously attempted suicide', according to official documents – but questions remain unanswered about her mental health.
Photo by Aaron M Sprecher/EPA

Sandra Bland told officers she had tried to kill herself last year in interviews following her arrest, documents released on Wednesday by the Waller County Sheriff's Office have revealed.

Suspicions have been raised by Bland's family over the official conclusion that the 28-year-old hanged herself with a trash bag in a Texas jail, just days after being arrested following a routine traffic stop.

The new documents released by officers also contain numerous discrepancies and fail to paint a clear picture of Bland's mental health record.


The black woman from Illinois apparently told interviewers that she was not depressed but was upset about her arrest on July 10, which occurred following a confrontation with a white officer who stopped her for a minor traffic violation.

Three days later she was dead. A medical examiner has ruled her death suicide by hanging, while friends and family have disputed that version, claiming that they have no evidence that she ever attempted suicide or had a clinical history of depression.

In the series of routine assessment questions, Bland indicates she had previously attempted suicide after losing a baby. One questionnaire says Bland took pills in 2015 in an attempt to kill herself after losing the baby.

A separate form filled out by another jail employee says the suicide attempt occurred in 2014. One form indicates Bland had suicidal thoughts within the past year, another says that's not the case.

The suicide questionnaire also notes that Bland told jailers she had epilepsy and was taking medication for it. But in another document, this one to be filled out by the inmate and signed by Bland, "no" is circled by the question asking if she's currently on any medication. In a third document, it is checked "yes" that she's taking medication.

In controversial dashcam footage released on Wednesday, Bland can be heard screaming at the officer arresting her: "You're about to break my wrist, stop! … You're a real man now, you just slammed me, knocked my head into the ground, I got epilepsy, you motherfucker."


The officer, who has been placed on desk duty for violating protocols during the roadside arrest, replies by saying: "Good."

It was not immediately clear why the sheriff's department had not acted earlier to disclose the details of Bland's intake form, whether it was widely shared among jail staff or if it prompted jail officials to take any special precautions.

Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith said Wednesday that both jailers who spoke with Bland insisted that she appeared fine when being booked on a charge of assaulting a public servant and neither the arresting officer nor anyone else at the jail believed she was at risk.

Attorney Cannon Lambert, representing the Bland family, asked at an earlier press conference: "Why is it that a 28-year-old woman who had received two job offers take her own life? Why would she call her mom in excitement about those jobs and take her own life?"

Related: 'Get Out of the Car': Sandra Bland's Family Attorney Reveals New Details of Arrest

An autopsy conducted by the Harris County medical examiner has been completed and given to Waller County, where officials have not said when it will be released.

A Texas Tribune journalist reported on Wednesday that the institute has refused to release the results of the autopsy report, citing an ongoing investigation into the woman's death.

Harris Co. Institute of Forensic Services (med examiner) finished — T.L. Langford (@tlangford)July 22, 2015


Late Wednesday, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis told CNN that his office had received an "initial report" from the medical examiner's office that Bland had marijuana in her system, though he said further toxicology reports are pending.

When asked about news reports that autopsy results also show evidence of self-harm, Mathis told CNN he'd been informed it was the "opinion of the medical examiner" that Bland had what appeared to be "cutting scars on the arm."

Bland's intake documents were released hours after her family held a news conference in suburban Chicago to discuss the release of a video of her arrest taken from the officer's dashcam.

Related: Was Sandra Bland Dashcam Arrest Video Edited Before Release?

Following the release of the video on Tuesday, many social media users were quick to comment that the video appears to lack continuity and seems to loop, indicating the supplied footage was edited prior to release.

The fast-escalating footage shows Texas state trooper Brian Encinia engage in a shouting confrontation with Bland and attempting to drag her out of her car, before drawing his stun gun and threatening to "light her up."

In response to questions about gaps and overlaps in the originally posted video, authorities have said the footage was not edited or manipulated.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Follow Charlotte Meredith on Twitter: @CHMeredith