DPS finds problems in traffic stop leading to Sandra Bland's arrest

Texas DPS announced Friday that it found problems with the traffic stop that led to 28-year-old Sandra Bland’s arrest.

A powerful state senator also weighed in Friday on Bland’s subsequent death in a Texas jail.

Authorities say 28-year-old Sandra Bland hanged herself in a Texas jail after her arrest for allegedly kicking an officer following a traffic stop gave no indication she was in such an emotional state that she would kill herself, her sister said Thursday.

The Texas Rangers are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of Bland of the Chicago suburb of Naperville. She was found dead Monday morning in a Waller County jail cell in Hempstead, Texas, about 60 miles northwest of Houston.

A Texas state trooper arrested Bland on Friday in Prairie View on a charge of assaulting a public servant. Erik Burse, a trooper and spokesman for the Texas Department Public Safety, told the Chicago Tribune that Bland was pulled over for failing to signal a lane change. He said she was outside the car and about to be issued a written warning when she kicked the officer and was then arrested.

A bystander recorded a video that seems to show part of the arrest and Bland shouting that the trooper slammed her head into the ground.

That video has prompted protests in Waller County and national scrutiny over the arrest of Bland.

Sen. Royce West says he’s been assured that dash-cam video will be made public in Bland’s death investigation.

“He assured me and I agree with him, once the family OKs the releasage of it, then it will be released,” said West. “So I think that's a good first step, but that's just the first step.”

West also said that transparency in the investigation is a top priority.

“It’s real important people understand we are going to make certain that we get the facts out and there's going to be transparency, period,” he said. “End of conversation.”

West said as much in a letter to Steve McCraw, Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, which the Waller County Sheriff’s Office requested to help investigate Bland’s in-custody death.

DPS officials said Friday that in the preliminary review of the traffic stop, it has “identified violations of the department's procedures regarding traffic stops and the department's courtesy policy.”

The trooper involved has been reassigned to desk duty while the investigation continues.

Bland was an outspoken voice in the Black Lives Matter movement on social media.

In January, Bland began posting a series of cellphone videos to her Facebook page under the title "Sandy Speaks" in which she groused about everything from inattentive parents and police mistreatment of blacks to what she called the "generation of heads down" - all of us with our heads buried in our smartphones.

She described the videos - many of them rambling and off the cuff and shot in her bedroom or on lunch breaks in her car - as a calling from God and urged people to share them on social media, saying she believed she was "here to change history."

Then, around halfway through the series, on March 1, she begins a video by apologizing for a two-week absence.

"I am suffering from something that some of you all may be dealing with right now," she says into the camera. "It's a little bit of depression as well as PTSD. I've been real stressed out over these past couple of weeks."

She does not go into any detail.

But her family insists she wasn't suicidal and was looking forward to starting a new job at Prairie View A&M, her alma mater, in August.

“Do you have confidence in the Texas Rangers?” FOX 4 asked West.

“I have confidence in Steve McCraw, the director,” said West. 

West says he's not rushing to judgement, but also wants to make it known that lawmakers are watching the investigation closely.

“If I see that it’s not being done in good faith and certain questions aren't being answered, then I'll make certain that the public knows about it,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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