Sandra Bland Death May Lead to Disciplinary Action, Sheriff Says

Sandra Bland (Courtesy of Facebook)
Sheriff R. Glenn Smith of Waller County during a news conference on Tuesday  in Prairie View, Tex. Credit Pat Sullivan/Associated Press
Sheriff R. Glenn Smith of Waller County during a news conference on Tuesday in Prairie View, Tex. (Pat Sullivan/Associated Press)

David Montgomery, THE NEW YORK TIMES

HEMPSTEAD, Tex. (The New York Times) — The Texas sheriff whose policies have come under intense criticism in the aftermath of the jail-cell hanging death of Sandra Bland says he is seriously considering disciplinary action against jail staff members for not fulfilling state requirements for mental health training.

In a nearly 45-minute interview in his office on Friday, Sheriff R. Glenn Smith of Waller County said he was continuing to review the chain of events that ended with the discovery of Ms. Bland’s body in her jail cell on July 13. Looking back, Sheriff Smith said, he regrets that Ms. Bland — who officials say told them after she arrived at the jail that she had once tried to kill herself — was not placed on a suicide watch.

“It’s very obvious to me now, with what happened,” he said, adding, “I absolutely wish” she had been watched.

Ms. Bland, 28, was booked into the county jail on July 10 after being arrested in a confrontational traffic stop by a state trooper who said she had changed lanes without signaling. Three days later she was found dead in her cell, hanging from a stanchion, a plastic bag taken from a 32-gallon trash container around her neck. Sheriff Smith said the plastic trash liners were recommended by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, but he called their use a mistake in light of what happened. All plastic liners have now been removed.

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