Breaking News Emails
The Illinois woman who died of apparent "self-inflicted asphyxiation" in her Texas jail cell three days after her arrest during a routine traffic stop last week allegedly told jailers she’d tried to commit suicide last year, according to jail records.
The death of Sandra Bland has raised questions from her family and others who have said they don’t believe the 28-year-old who had recently gotten a new job would have hanged herself at the Waller County Jail on July 13.
Jail intake forms released Wednesday show the answer of "yes" to questions about whether Bland attempted suicide in the past.
But some of the forms don't match. One says Bland attempted suicide in 2015, and the other handwritten form appears to show 2014. The reason listed on both was "lost baby" and the method was "pills."
One form answers "yes" to the question "Have you had thoughts of killing yourself in the last year," and the other says "no." Both forms have a question, "Are you thinking about killing yourself today," and the answer on both is marked as "no."
One form says Bland had been "very depressed" in the past, and felt that way on the day she was booked, and the other answers negatively to those questions.
An attorney representing Bland’s family, Cannon Lambert, told reporters Wednesday that relatives have no evidence that she ever attempted suicide or had been treated for depression.
"We take issue with the notion that she was suffering from depression," he said.
Bland did make a social media video post in March in which she said she was depressed, but Lambert has said that doesn't speak to her mindset at the time of the arrest.
Bland was arrested by a Texas trooper after a traffic stop for switching lanes without signaling on July 10, in an encounter that begins as a routine stop but escalated after the trooper ordered her out of the car.
Bland apparently hanged herself with a plastic trash can liner sometime before she was discovered in her cell at around 9 a.m. on July 13, authorities said. The FBI and Texas Rangers are investigating the circumstances of her death.
A friend of Bland’s, LaVaughn Mosley, released the audio of a voice mail he received from Bland the day after she was arrested. In the message, she said that she was being held on $5,000 bond and had just seen a judge.
“I’m still just at a loss for words, honestly, about this whole process,” she said in the message. “How this switching lanes with no signal turned into all of this, I don’t even know. Um, but I’m still here. So, I guess call me back wehen you can. Bye.”
An autopsy revealed scars on one of Bland’s arms consistent with cutting attempts, Warren K. Diepraam, the first assistant district attorney for Waller County, told NBC News.
He said the healing of the scars suggested that the wounds were inflicted one to two weeks before the autopsy.
Diepraam also said that preliminary toxicology reports were positive for marijuana, and that investigators have asked for confirmatory testing. In an interview with NBC affiliate KPRC, he said that investigators had not determined how long the marijuana had been in her system or what if any role it played in her death.
Lambert on MSNBC Wednesday night said the Waller County prosecutor's office requested a second autopsy, and that the first autopsy was defective.
The Waller County District Attorney's Office told NBC News that is not the case.
A representative of the office said the first autopsy was not faulty and no second autopsy is planned, but the county does want to preserve the body for any testing that may need to be done as the investigation continues. Bland's body has been turned over to her family.