Sandra Bland's Death Ruled Suicide by Hanging

CNN/ Newswire | 7/23/2015, 4:48 p.m.
The cause of Sandra Bland's death was hanging; the manner of death was suicide, a prosecutor told reporters, citing preliminary ...
Sandra Bland

By Greg Botelho and Dana Ford


(CNN) -- The cause of Sandra Bland's death was hanging; the manner of death was suicide, a prosecutor told reporters, citing preliminary autopsy results.

Warren Diepraam, a Waller County, Texas, prosecutor, provided details Thursday to support those findings.

Bland -- a black woman whose arrest and, days later, death in custody stirred anger nationwide -- did not have injuries on her hands. She did have approximately 30 "cut marks," on her left wrist, he said, which were in a state of healing.

"There were no bite marks or other injuries on her face, on her lips, on her tongue, which would be consistent with a violent struggle," said Diepraam.

If there had been a violent struggle, the prosecutor said, examiners would most likely not expect to see a uniform and consistent mark around Bland's neck -- which is what they, in fact, observed.

Bland did have lacerations or abrasions on her wrists, which are consistent with being handcuffed and struggling, Diepraam said. He also told reporters she had marijuana in her system at the time of her death.

State report: Jail that held Bland did not make timely checks

Guards in the jail that held Bland violated policies by failing to do timely checks on inmates, a report obtained Thursday by CNN shows.

The formulaic, two-page "special inspection report" from the Texas Commission on Jail Standards does not mention Bland by name. But it was filed on July 16, three days after Bland's body was found in her cell, a death that authorities characterized as a suicide, but that family, friends and their supporters think is suspicious.

A timeline from the Waller County Sheriff's Office of what's seen in video from the jail states that a male guard stopped and briefly talked with Bland shortly after 7 a.m., but no one came back to check on her until 8:55 a.m.

That's when jail personnel found her not breathing and hanged with a trash bag from a metal barrier that separated the bathroom from the rest of her cell, a death the sheriff's office said "appears to be self-inflicted asphyxiation."

The state report notes that there should be a "visual, face-to-face observation of all inmates by jailers no less than once every 60 minutes." Not nearly two hours, as was the case in Bland.

In fact, the inspection report found that "documentation ... revealed that Waller County is not completing (such checks) as required by Minimum Jail Standards."

That's not the only apparent violation.

The same report states county officials didn't provide proof that jail staff had two hours of annual training with "the local mental health authorities ... in accordance with their approved Mental Disabilities/Suicide Prevention Plan."

"The training is to include the recognition, supervision, documentation and handling of inmates who are mentally disabled and/or potentially suicidal," it says.

Separately, an inmate who was held in a cell adjacent to Bland told CNN she did not hear any commotion or screaming that would suggest foul play before the 28-year-old woman was found dead.