Activists call for independent inquiry of Sandra Bland’s jail cell death in Texas – Los Angeles Times

A coalition of civil rights activists on Monday called for an independent investigation into the death of Sandra Bland, an African American woman who was found hanged in her Texas cell and whose death is the latest case to raise questions about race and police.

“This is not a race war. This is a war on black lives,” said the Rev. Hannah Bonner, pastor of justice ministries at St. John’s United Methodist Church in Houston, a white minister who has been holding a vigil outside the sheriff’s office since Bland’s death. The group of about two dozen clergy and other supporters called for the Department of Justice to investigate Bland’s death earlier this month.

A closed-circuit video taken in Texas jail shows that no one entered the cell of Bland, who was found hanged, said Waller County Dist. Atty. Elton Mathis in a televised interview on Monday. 

Mathis said there were no cameras in the cell where Bland was found. In an interview with CNN on Monday, he said that cameras monitoring the hall outside her cell show no one entered or left it between the time she last spoke with deputies through an intercom system and when her body was discovered July 13.

Even though there is a preliminary ruling of suicide, Mathis said the case would be investigated as though it was a homicide. In addition to state police, the FBI is involved in the probe, which could go to a local grand jury when it next meets in August.

The jailhouse video is scheduled to be released late Monday afternoon. But activists questioned its validity, saying that video can be altered and time stamps changed.

“This was not a suicide. This behind me was murder. All of America knows something is rotten,” said the Rev. Jamal Bryant, speaking at news conference in front of the Waller County Sheriff’s Office and County Jail.

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