Texas trooper violated policy stopping woman who died in jail: agency

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 18, 2015 4:53 AM

By Victoria Cavaliere

(Reuters) - A Texas trooper violated protocol during a traffic stop of a woman who was jailed and days later found dead in her cell in what a local sheriff's department said was an apparent suicide, officials said.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said on Friday the trooper has been put on desk duty while the FBI and the Texas Rangers, a statewide police and investigation agency, probe the death of Sandra Bland, 28, an African-American.

Relatives and friends of Bland, who was found hanged in her Waller County jail cell on Monday, said they do not believe the official version given by the Waller County Sheriff's Office.

Bland, from the Chicago suburb of Naperville, was arrested on July 10 for allegedly assaulting an officer during a traffic stop in Prairie View, northwest of Houston.

The trooper who made the arrest violated procedures and the agency's courtesy policy, the Department of Public Safety said.

"At the conclusion of this investigation, any violations of protocols will be addressed," it said in a statement that gave no further details.

Video related to the case would be shared with the public, it added.

Bland had just moved to Texas for a new job with her alma mater, Texas Prairie View A & M University, and the arrest took place near the school, Chicago broadcaster WLS reported. She was arraigned over the weekend and her bond was set at $5,000.

On Friday, demonstrators gathered outside the jail where she died to demand answers. "I just couldn't imagine that someone would say that this woman, that was so strong, would take her own life. She wouldn't have done that," friend Lanitra Dean told Houston broadcaster KHOU.

The jail where she was held had been cited for two violations of minimum standards, KHOU reported.

Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith told the station in a statement "there was no reason to believe that either one of these deficiencies had any part in the death of Sandra Bland."

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Tom Heneghan)