There are too many questions still to be answered – this is a very disturbingly confused situation, suggesting a need for an in depth and thorough investigation
As a retired research pathologist and physician the Sandra Bland case is very disturbing to me.
Sandra Bland was arrested after an officer stopped her for not using a signal to change lanes and then, although legally but questionably as he had no reasonable basis to do so, told her to stop smoking and then got mad at her and made her get out of the car because she seemed to object to this request.
When she got out of the car and was verbally objecting to the officer’s requests, the officer then slammed her to the ground causing her to smash her head down. Then she complained she couldn’t hear, which indicates she suffered a concussion.
She told the officers she had epilepsy and was on a medication, Kepra.
The jail then claims she committed suicide by hanging three days later with a plastic bag.
Yes it is possible to hang yourself by leaning in after securing your hands so you cannot get the bag or rope away from suffocating you even without any drop. Many prisoners have killed themselves in this manner called “leaning in hanging”.
If the jail denied her the epilepsy medication, it is possible that she died from a seizure as the medication wore out of her system and then made her prone to a seizure. The stress of the situation and lack of medication could have contributed to having a seizure. Then they could have staged the hanging. If this was true, then there would be no bleeding after death around the ligature (plastic bag) which was around her neck and no petechiae (pin point hemmorhages). Petechiae however, are not always present with hanging or suffocation.
If she was strangled and then the hanging staged, the autopsy report, if it was done properly, should show that the ligature furrowing was concentric and not consistent with hanging. A hanging will have non-concentric furrowing as the ligature has more pressure on one side due to gravity.
There was also plant matter in her abrasions on her back, consistent with the day she was arrested, having been thrown to the ground and dragged. It is negligence for the jail not to have cleaned and treated her abrasions or allowed her to shower properly for three days to clean the wounds.
If the blood tests show she did not have her medication, then that also would be negligence, as lack of medication needed for epilepsy could have precipitated a seizure.
The reports say she told the officers she was suicidal, but the jail did not have her on a suicide watch. That would also be negligence. Suicide in jails often occurs during the first few days in jail as that is when the detainee is most upset about the situation. Ms. Bland certainly had reason to be upset as the circumstances of the arrest and slamming her to the ground seem excessive.
In addition, she had an unusually high amount of marijuana in her blood. Therefore, she was given a large amount of marijuana in the jail which she either ingested or smoked. That needs investigation. I am not an expert on effects of marijuana so I cannot comment on whether this can increase suicidal ideation or depression or if it can trigger seizures.
The autopsy does not prove she hung herself. There are too many questions still to be answered.
A senior well-known forensic pathologist, Dr. Cyril Wecht , who is also an attorney agrees with the above assessment during an interview on the radio here.