Sandra Bland, an African American woman from Naperville, Illinois, was found dead in her cell at Waller County Jail three days after she was arrested during a routine traffic stop, Chicago's ABC-7 reports.
According to police, Bland became "combative" after being pulled over for failing to signal during a lane change, and she was charged with assaulting an officer.
Video of the arrest suggests police were being quite aggressive with Bland.
In the video, she can be heard screaming,
You just slammed my head into the ground. Do you not even care about that? I can't even hear!
The arrest of #SandraBland was recorded. I hear her saying the officer slammed her head on the ground. pic.twitter.com/BypLQuQjM4 — Shaun King (@ShaunKing) July 16, 2015
At approximately 9 am on Monday, Bland was reportedly found hanging in a jail cell. Police say she died by self-inflicted asphyxiation or suicide. The sheriff's department claims it attempted CPR after finding Bland but says she perished shortly thereafter.
But, family and friends aren't buying it. They believe the circumstances of Bland's death are extremely dubious and suspect foul play, given she was a mentally strong person with a bright future.
Bland recently relocated to the area to begin a job working with student outreach at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M in Texas.
Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis also admitted the circumstances of Bland's death are questionable and merit further attention.
According to Click2Houston, he said,
I will admit it is strange someone who had everything going for her would have taken her own life. That's why it's very important a thorough investigation is done and that we get a good picture of what Ms. Bland was going through the last four or five days of her life.
Texas State Rangers are now spearheading an investigation into Bland's death.
Concurrently, a campaign for more clarity and answers surrounding Bland's passing has begun on social media with the hashtag #JusticeForSandra.
Many Americans, particularly minorities, are deeply distrustful of police at present, for understandable reasons.
When we look at what happened to individuals like Walter Scott, in particular, it's clear why so many are questioning what truly happened to Sandra Bland.
Racism and police brutality are topics fresh in many people's minds across the country.
It doesn't help reports are tying Walter County Sheriff Glenn Smith, a man involved in Bland's case, to documented instances of racism in the past, and he may have been suspended and subsequently fired from a separate department for such incidents.
Only time will tell what the ultimate circumstances of Bland's tragic death were, but as things stand, it's difficult to make any comprehensive conclusions.