Sandra Bland Swallowed Or Smoked 'Large Quantity Of Marijuana' In Jail: DA

Sandra Bland Swallowed Or Smoked 'Large Quantity Of Marijuana' In Jail: DA

Sandra Bland, the black woman found hanging dead in a Texas jail days after a traffic stop, smoked or possibly swallowed a large amount of marijuana while in custody, her family's attorney reported the district attorney as saying.

Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis made the disclosure in a text message to attorney Cannon Lambert, who has called the state's autopsy on the Chicago-area woman defective, Lambert said.

"Looking at the autopsy results and toxicology, it appears she swallowed a large quantity of marijuana or smoked it in the jail," Mathis said in a text message to Lambert that the attorney provided to Reuters.

Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity of the text. Repeated calls to Mathis' office were not returned.

"This will of course be very relevant in any future criminal or civil litigation," the message from Mathis to Lambert said.

Bland was pulled over on July 10 near Prairie View, Texas, northwest of Houston, for failing to signal a lane change. After the incident escalated into an altercation between her and the trooper, Bland was taken into custody and charged with assaulting an officer. She was found hanging in her jail cell on July 13 with a plastic trash bag around her neck.

Her death was originally ruled a suicide, although officials have said they are handling it as a murder probe.

According to Lambert, Mathis said the state needs to conduct a second autopsy on Bland, whose body was returned to the Chicago area on Wednesday in preparation for a funeral on Saturday.

"The family's confidence is shaken by the continued discrepancies that are surfacing," Lambert said in an email to Reuters.

Waller County Assistant District Attorney Warren Diepraam told NBC News further tests were required to determine how much marijuana was in her system and for how long to conclude when it was ingested and what role, if any, it played in her death.

CBS News reported that Mathis had asked that Bland's body be preserved after a toxicology test found a substantial amount of marijuana in her system at the time of her death, but denying that he had ordered a second autopsy.

Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith, whose office operates the jail where Bland died, could not be reached immediately for comment Thursday on the report of marijuana in her system.

Smith told Reuters on Wednesday that the jailers on duty when Bland was admitted felt she was not a suicide risk based on their observations and her statement on the questionnaire that she was not depressed at the time.


The jail where Bland died was cited three days after her death by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards for failing to complete visual face-to-face observations of inmates every 60 minutes as required by state regulations.

It was also cited for failing to produce written records to prove that jail staff had undergone required yearly training in the recognition, supervision, documentation and handling of inmates who are mentally disabled or potentially suicidal.

The jail also failed an inspection in November 2012 for failing to complete hourly observations after an inmate's suicide, state records show.

Bland was being held alone in a cell designed for up to five women when she was found dead.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit, additional reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Andrew Hay and Cynthia Osterman)

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