WHY IS SANDRA BLAND DEAD?, by Dr. Steven Nur Ahmed

Sandra Bland Picture

If you have a living mother or grandmother, a daughter, a wife, a niece, and aunts, then your stomach must have been turning over into knots these two weeks.

On Saturday July 25, Sandra Bland was buried. She died in Waller County jail in Prairie View, Texas. On July 13, she was found hanged by a plastic bag which had been placed by jail officials into a small garbage pail in her cell.

I have seen the extended video of the incident which occurred on July 10. I have also seen a copy of her felony arrest warrant for allegedly assaulting a public official and a copy of her jail booking form.

The extended video shows Police Officer Brian Encinio approach her car. He obtained from Ms. Bland her driver’s license and registration then goes back to his patrol car.

Later, he returned to Ms. Bland’s car. He asked her: “Are you irritated?” She answered him in the affirmative and told him why. She then asked him to write the ticket.

He then asked her to put out her cigarette which Ms. Bland was lawfully smoking in her car. She asked him: why? He then asked her to get out of her car. She asked him why she had to get out of her car.

She asked was she under arrest and if so for what. She refused to get out of her car. She asked him why he wanted her to get out of her car for a traffic citation. He grabbed at her to pull her out of the car. The police officer never stated to her that she was under arrest before grabbing her.

The fact is that Officer Brian Encinio did not have ‘probable cause’ to arrest Ms. Bland because he pulled her over for a traffic infraction not the belief that she was in the commission of or had taken a substantial step toward the commission of a felony.

In fact, he made a threat to do bodily injury to her when he said to her: “I will light you up”; he then pulled his Taser gun out and pointed it at her. She was later thrown head first onto the ground by Encinio.

Only afterward did he state to her that she was under arrest for assaulting a public servant. However, other than a claim that Ms. Bland kicked him in the shin there is no evidence on the video recording that she in fact threatened the officer Encinio while in her car.

A second black female police officer arrived on the scene. But even though she was driving in the opposite flow of traffic to officer Encinio the black female officer affirmed to him that she had seen Ms. Bland kick him in the shin after Encinio had asked her a leading question: “did you see her kick me?”

The black female officer can be seen later with her knee on Ms. Bland’s back as she lay face down on the ground.

The booking form filled out by Ms. Bland is ambiguous about Ms. Bland having ever attempted suicide. It asked twice whether or not she had ever committed suicide.

There was allegedly a written statement on the form that she had attempted suicide in the past but there was also on that same booking form an X marked  no to a question asking had she ever attempted to commit suicide.

No jail official claims to know specifically at what time on the night of July 13 she was hanged. No one knows whether or not she alone hanged herself. The official autopsy report done by the county coroner concluded that because there were no signs of trauma or struggle she must have hanged herself. They claim that Sandra Blank committed suicide.

But no one addressed the possibility that she could have been held down by two or more sheriff’s and smothered with a pillow over her face. I spoke with a physician and was told that it is highly likely that there would be not visible trauma or sign of struggle if she had been held down and smothered with a pillow.

Some people want to turn Sandra Bland who was the victim into the villain and the cause for her arrest and death. 

I have been reading arguments that she should have been compliant…that is she should have put out her cigarette when she was told to do so.

She had an absolute right to not put out her cigarette which she was lawfully smoking in her car.

But Ms. Bland had an absolute constitutional right under the fourth amendment to ask officer Encinio whether or not she was under arrest.  

He ignored her questions as though she was not a citizen with legal rights. In fact, many police officers perceive black, Latino, and Native Americans as foreigners and treat them as such.

Given all the facts surrounding Ms. Bland’s death we can conclude the following:

  1. Officer Brian Encinio committed criminal and civil battery against Ms. Bland.

In both criminal and the common law of tort, battery on another person occurs when a person intentionally touches or even acts as though they are going to touch the person of another without that person’s consent or without justification.

When Officer Encinio threatened Ms. Bland by saying: “I will light you up’, it was an expression of his intent to electrically shock Ms. Bland with his Taser Gun.

It can clearly be seen on the video that Ms. Bland was extremely apprehensive of Officer Encinio shooting her with his Taser weapon; she reacted out of fear of pain by resisting Officer Encinio when he reached into her car and man handled her without her consent or justification under the law.

We also know that Officer Brian Encinio was taken off his patrol duty and put on desk duty because he violated arrest procedure as defined by his department.

  1. Waller County Jail is guilty of gross negligence against Sandra Bland.

The Waller County Jail had a duty of due care not to harm nor allow harm to Ms. Bland while she was in custody and under the jail’s supervision. It is a standard duty of due care which all jails and prisons in the same or similar circumstances as the Waller County Jail have for inmates’ safety.

The Waller County jail recklessly breached its duty of due care for Sandra Bland when it failed to supervise the safety of Ms. Bland.

     3. The Waller County Jail is the actual cause of Sandra Bland’s death because Sandra Bland was found hanged by a plastic bag which the sheriffs had placed in her cell.

     4.The Waller County Jail is the proximate cause of Sandra Bland’s death.

In the law of torts, proximate cause means failing to foresee what one should have foreseen. That one knew or should have known the long term consequences of one’s act or omission to act which caused harm to another person. 

In Ms. Bland’s case, the Waller County Jail officials where indifferent to Ms. Bland’s condition in jail. They should have foreseen that any object like the plastic garbage bag in her cell could be used by her to commit suicide.

The jail officials should also have foreseen that she needed to be watched because it was reported by another inmate that she was crying throughout her days in jail.

That kind of anticipatory reasoning would have been based upon Ms. Bland’s ambiguous answers on the intake booking form whereon she answered yes to one question that she had attempted suicide in the past.  

The Prairieville Police Department and Officer Brian Encinio should be charged by the District Attorney for criminal assault and battery against Ms. Sandra Bland.

The Waller County Jail should be sued in civil court for negligence in the death of Sandra Bland.

Now you know the answer to the question: Why is Sandra Bland dead? Sandra Bland is dead because she was a black woman.







Black Girl on computer

In a report on African Americans and technology, Aaron Smith of the PWEInternet.org summarized a series of demographic snapshots of technology use and adoption among different ethnic groups of adults in the United States.  Based on surveys the demographic snapshots offered a detailed look at a number of key subgroups within the African American population such as: men vs. women, old vs. young, low income vs. high income, and parents vs. non-parents.

The black/white “digital divide” continues to persist, but is not consistent across technology platforms or demographic groups.  The Digital Divide, seems to now be centered in Occupational Opportunities and not in access to technology.

It used to be that 4 to 5 times per day someone would ask you “what time is it?”  Respectfully, you would look at your watch and tell them. Once more people possessed watches the fewer requests.  Today, most people no longer wear a watch. Their Smart Cell Phones have absolutely replaced the need for a watch.

African Americans’ use of technology is now reaching or surpassing the same levels of other ethnic groups.  For the purposes of this article statements will compare African American technology usages in comparison to White Americans.

Statistically current day reports may reveal that African Americans trail whites by seven percentage points when it comes to overall internet use (87% of whites and 80% of blacks are internet users).  Statistics also reveal that there is a twelve percentage point gap when it comes to home High Speed Internet adoption.  The figures point to 74% of whites and 62% of blacks who have some sort of High Speed Internet connection at home.  At the same time, blacks and whites are on more equal footing when it comes to other types of access, especially on mobile platforms.

Within the sub-groups, the gap between whites and blacks when it comes to traditional measures of internet usage and High Speed Internet access is more pronounced among certain demographic subgroups than among others. Specifically, older African Americans as well as those who have not attended college are significantly less likely to go online or to have High Speed Internet access at home compared to whites with a similar demographic profile. African Americans age 65 and older have especially low adoption rates compared with whites. Just 45% of black seniors are internet users, and 30% have High Speed Internet access at home (among white seniors, 63% go online and more than 51% are High Speed Internet adopters).

On the other hand, young college-educated and higher-income African Americans are just as likely as their white counterparts to use the internet and to have High Speed Internet service at home. Some 86% of African Americans ages 18-29 are home High Speed Internet adopters as are 88% of black college graduates and 91% of African Americans with an annual household income of $45,000 or more per year. These figures are all well above the national average for High Speed Internet adoption and are identical to whites of similar ages, incomes, and education levels.

Twitter is especially popular among younger African Americans

Overall, 73% of African American internet users—and 96% of those ages 18-29 use a social networking site of some kind. African Americans have exhibited relatively high levels of Twitter use since we began tracking the service as a stand-alone platform and this continues to be the case; 22% of online blacks are Twitter users compared with 16% of online whites.

Black on Twitter

Younger African Americans in particular have especially high rates of Twitter use. Fully 40% of 18-29 year old African Americans who use the internet say that they use Twitter. That is 12 percentage points higher than the comparable figure for young whites (28% of whom are Twitter users). The mobile difference: 92% of African Americans own a cell phone, and 76% own a Smart Phone

In contrast to internet use and High Speed Internet adoption, blacks and whites are equally likely to own a cell phone of some kind. They also have identical rates of smartphone ownership. Some 92% of black adults are cell phone owners and 76% own a smartphone of some kind.

pretty young adult african girl with senior parents using tablet computer

Cell phone ownership is much more common than internet use among older African Americans.  Just 45% of African Americans ages 65 and older use the internet, but 77% are cell phone owners (most of these seniors own basic cell phones, as only 28% are smartphone owners).  Overall, 72% of all African Americans and 98% of those between the ages of 18 and 29 have either a High Speed Internet connection or a smartphone.

Conclusions and not just an observation…

The statistics supporting and the social belief that African Americans are behind in technology are not exactly accurate.  Statistically, if 70% of whites do something and 65% of blacks do something the relationship of these numbers to each respective population size would put blacks well ahead in proportion to their percent of the total U.S. population. 

What is making the difference is “Time to Device”.  African Americans for numerous reasons spend 25 to 35% more time on Mobile Phone Devices than any other race.  Factors such as higher unemployment, limited accesses to a computer, and digital social networking demands cause African Americans to exceed in Mobile Smart Phone usage and device knowledge.

African Americans can also be classified as the Smart Phone Savvy race of users.  While blacks only know 20% of the settings and functioning of a Desktop or Laptop Computer they typically know 80 to 90% of their Smart Phones features and settings.

Finally there is another strong benefit to African Americans and Cell Phone Use. Black Americans will teach each other.  African Americans jump at the opportunity to show their knowledge and smart phone skills.  They consider their knowledge equal or superior to others and if a Smart Phone Test were administered they would confidentially pass. 

Smart Phone Parenting:

Out of love and to teach her children a lesson a black mother banned cell phone usage in her house for 2 weeks.  To emphasize the importance of books, she gave her son a book to do a report for school.  The son came home with his first “D” ever.  When the mom asked him what happened he told her “the book you gave me only went up to 2005 and the teacher said my report was too outdated”.  She returned his smart phone and learned the lesson.

The Clouds and the new “Digital Race”:

As the non-tech savvy generation dies off the library becomes a place where knowledge used to be.  African Americans are becoming equally connected to others, too. However, they may never become those working and employed behind the scenes on servers, switches, routers, and hubs. Working behind the Clouds for the Black Americans is well beyond reach.  But wait there is a possible solution, Michael Jordan did it with the Tennis Shoe and Dr. Dre did it with Beats Audio.   Blacks are Branding Trend Setters and the “J Phone” (La-bron James) could be the next best thing…

Imagine your home with no Internet Connection or Land-Line-Telephone.  Image yourself being an adult without a Cell Phone. The disconnection would be extremely challenging…  Today you must be able to reach the Clouds to be a connected member of society.  In the clouds all ethnic races are connected and your ethnicity does not matter.  Via the Clouds your locality anywhere on the planet does not matter. 

Today you must be able to reach the Clouds to be included in the new “Digital Race” where the only difference between you and the next person is not skin color or ethnic group heritage, but the ability to “Digitally Connect in the Clouds”.   

The Clouds is where Racially Conscious People who have never interacted with other cultures can finally do so as equal “Digital Citizens”.