‘#If I Die In Police Custody’: Hashtag spreads after black woman commits suicide in jail

A social media outcry has been unleashed over the death of a black woman in police custody who authorities say committed suicide by hanging herself with a plastic bag. A claim her family and Black Lives Matter activists don’t believe.

Sandra Bland was pulled over for a minor traffic infraction in Waller County, Texas on July 10 when police say she became violent and assaulted the officer.

Bland was physically subdued by the arresting officer who was subsequently placed on administrative duty pending an investigation for “violations of the department’s procedures regarding traffic stops and the department’s courtesy policy,” according to a statement from Texas Department of Public Safety, CNN reported.

Sandra Bland

Three days later, on July 13, Bland was found dead in her cell, prompting an outcry from both her family and people on social media who used the hashtag #IfIDieInPolicyCustody to express their disbelief.

“Based on the Sandy I knew, this is unfathomable to me,” Bland’s sister Sharon Cooper told reporters. “People who knew her, truly knew her, the depth of her, that’s unfathomable right now.”

Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis promised a full and transparent investigation.

“The death of Sandra Bland will not be swept under the rug,” he told reporters Friday according to CNN. “There will be no one who is protected… The truth will come out.”

But Mathis also said that while there were no cameras inside Bland’s cell, the cameras situated outside her cell show no one entering or leaving between when Bland was last seen alive and when her body was discovered.

“We cannot find where anyone goes into the cell from the hallway to do her any harm from the last time she was physically viewed alive,” he said.

Understandably, her sister doesn’t believe she would have taken her own life.

“To know Sandy was to love her,” Cooper said. “She was someone who was extremely spontaneous, spunky, outgoing, truly filled with life and joy. So when you think through the circumstances shared with us through this point, this is unimaginable.”

But Mathis said authorities were investigating online videos of Bland from March in which she said she was battling depression and PTSD.

That didn’t stop the barrage of Twitter responses from people who were quick to discount any idea that the police might be innocent and want the world to know what to think if something befalls them while they are in police custody.

Others used the hashtag to defend the police.

Carmine Sabia


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