Independent review coming in Sandra Bland's death; toxicology report released

By Phil Archer - Reporter

HOUSTON - Preliminary toxicology results from the autopsy of Sandra Bland suggest she ingested a large amount of marijuana prior to her death in the Waller County Jail on July 13.

The results of the Harris County Medical Examiner's analysis show levels of THC in Bland's bloodstream that could suggest she ingested marijuana while she was being held in the jail. A more likely scenario according to Assistant Waller County District Attorney Warren Diepraam, is that Bland ingested a very large amount of marijuana prior to her arrest by a Texas state trooper in Prairie View on July 10.

Mathis declined to go into detail during a press conference Monday in Hempstead.

"At this point I don't want to engage in evidentiary analysis in the media," Mathis said.

[READ THE TOXICOLOGY REPORT]

Mathis announced he's appointing a committee of four lawyers who will form an independent commission to review Bland's arrest and death at the Waller County Jail to ensure there is no question of transparency.

He said the investigation into Bland's death by the Texas Rangers and Federal Bureau of Investigation continues. Her death has been ruled a suicide by hanging.

"It's important that this investigation and prosecution be based on proper evidence, not rumors," Mathis said.

As Mathis spoke, protestor Carie Cauley stood outside the jail holding a sign that read, "What Happened to Sandra Bland?"

"I feel like Sandra Bland was murdered and the investigation has not been done consistently. It has not been truthful," Cauley said.

Mathis appointed former prosecutor Louis White to spearhead the committee, along with Houston attorney Darrell Jordan.

"If you have access to social media and see all the questions, even though the FBI was called in, even though the Texas Rangers were called in, there are still questions out there in the community for whatever reason still doesn't trust the evaluation," Jordan said.

Mathis said as far as he knows, Department of Public Safety Trooper Brian Encinia is still assigned to desk duty.

Bland was pulled over by Encinia on July 10 for failing to use a turn signal. Bland refused the officer's request to put out a cigarette and his subsequent order to get out of the car. He threatened to shoot Bland with a stun gun unless she obeyed his order, and said she kicked him during the tussle.

Bland was arrested and authorities say she killed herself three days later in her cell.

The Harris County Medical Examiner's Office determined through an autopsy that Bland hanged herself with a plastic bag. The 28-year-old woman's family has questioned the finding, saying she was excited about starting a new job and wouldn't have taken her own life.

The traffic stop -- which was captured on police dash cam video and on a bystander's cellphone -- and Bland's death in custody have resonated on social media.

Mathis says he expects to take evidence provided by the Texas Rangers to a Waller County grand jury sometime in August.

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