A preliminary autopsy has declared Sandra Bland's death a suicide by hanging, officials in Waller County, Texas, said at a press conference Thursday afternoon. Local police have said Bland, a 28-year-old black woman, was found hanging in her cell July 13, three days after she was initially detained and later arrested during a routine traffic stop. Her family has disputed the notion that she was suicidal.
Medical examiners did not find any evidence of defensive wounds on Bland's hands or head that would indicate she died after a struggle, Waller County Assistant District Attorney Warren Diepraam said, according to Buzzfeed News. A series of approximately 30 cuts were found on Bland's wrist and authorities have yet to determine their cause, but said they were not recent injuries. Traces of marijuana were also found in Bland's system, Diepraam said.
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) July 23, 2015
Authorities have not yet made a decision on whether criminal wrongdoing contributed to Bland's death. "At this point, it has not been determined that there have been any criminal activities or any criminal charges at this time," Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said, according to Newsweek.
A Texas state trooper stopped Bland's car near Prarie View, Texas, after she failed to signal before changing lanes. Dashcam footage of Bland's arrest showed her confrontation with Trooper Brian Encinia escalated after he demanded she put out her cigarette. Encinia's police report said Bland was arrested for "assault on a public servant," CNN reported.
Bland told officials that processed her arrest on July 10 that she had dealt with depression in the past and attempted suicide in 2014 after she suffered a miscarriage, Walter County Sheriff R. Glenn Smith told the New York Times. But authorities opted not to place her on suicide watch during her incarceration.
Bland's family has expressed doubt that she was depressed or suicidal before her death, pointing out that she had just accepted a new job offer in Texas and had never mentioned a suicide attempt in the past.