Texas authorities on Tuesday released several hours of video footage of Sandra Bland during her three days in jail to address rumors that she was dead before arriving there.
Waller County Judge Trey Duhon said such conspiracy theories including one that Bland’s mugshot was taken after her death have prompted death threats against county officials.
“Because of some of the things that’s gone out on social media, this county has been literally attacked,” he said at a news conference, adding that the FBI is investigating the most serious threats.
“Sandra Bland was alive and well” until she was found hanging on July 13 in her cell at the Waller County jail, Duhon said. Authorities have ruled that Bland’s death, three days after her arrest during a confrontational traffic stop, was a suicide.
The first portions of footage show Bland being taken out of a patrol car at the jail and questioned by a jailer. She’s then briefly placed in a holding cell before her mugshot is taken and she makes a phone call.
Bland, a black 28-year-old from suburban Chicago, was found dead in the Waller County jail on July 13. Authorities have said Bland hanged herself with a garbage bag, a finding that her family has questioned, saying she was happy. She was in custody for allegedly assaulting the white state trooper who pulled her over for an improper lane change.
The death has garnered national attention amid increased scrutiny of police treatment of blacks in the wake of several high-profile police-involved deaths.
On Monday, an initial toxicology report was released for Bland that two experts said raised the possibility that she may have used marijuana while in custody.
The amount of THC, one of the active components of marijuana, in Bland’s system was 18 micrograms per liter, according to the report. That’s more than three times the legal limit for drivers in Colorado and Washington, states that permit the recreational use of marijuana.
A committee of outside attorneys will assist Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis in investigating Bland’s death.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever get an answer to all the questions,” said attorney Lewis White of Sugar Land, one of the committee members. “But our job is to get answers. There are going to be answers some people don’t like.”
The Texas Rangers and the FBI are investigating the case.