Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis has opened a criminal investigation into the death of Sandra Bland. The vivacious 28-year-old was on her way to start a new job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University.
Sandra was pulled over for failing to signal while changing lanes. I don’t drive but Sandra’s death speaks to me in a way the other suspicious deaths while in police custody did not.
I’m chair of Avenging the Ancestors Coalition (F)ilm the Police Committee. I, too, believe that change starts with the person in the mirror.
Like Sandra, I know my rights during a police encounter. I also know that if provoked, I could go off. Hell, I got irritated viewing the dashcam video. I can imagine that Sandra was wondering what was taking the trooper so long to write a ticket or let her go.
To Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia, Sandra’s “crime” was “her whole arrogant attitude.” She exercised her right “not to kiss the officer’s butt.” Like it or not, we have the right to mouth off to cops.
The medical examiner ruled that Sandra “committed suicide by hanging.” We will likely never know what happened in her jail cell. We must not let Sandra’s death be in vain.
If you’re stopped by the police, say her name. But then bite your tongue because rule number one to survive a police encounter is to STFU. That way, you can live to fight another day.
The struggle continues.