Texas State Sen. Rodney Ellis, Sandra Bland family attorney Cannon Lambert, and Bland’s sister Sharon Cooper, joined Roland Martin on NewsOne Now to discuss the latest developments in the investigation into the death in custody case of Bland.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Sen. Ellis, Attorney Cannon Lambert and two other state legislators have viewed the unreleased portions of the Waller County Police dash cam video recorded at the time of Bland’s arrest on Sunday.
Sen. Ellis told Martin the video raised a number of “disturbing” issues. He said, “I think when it comes out, it will be interesting to see what each person’s perspective is. Just for the five people who were in the room watching it with me, I think each of us had different perceptions about what happened.”
Ellis believes, “There will be a lot of lessons that will be learned” from the Waller County police dash cam video. He added, “I think that with the benefit of hindsight, both parties — one trained for issues like this — both parties could have handled it a bit better.”
Sen. Ellis continued, “There is no way to justify a young woman at the prime of her career, getting ready to kick off a very exhilarating life, ending up being dead.”
Lambert explained the events captured on dash cam video as he saw them, saying he would “part ways a little bit” and said, “There are certain things that are steadfast that are on that video.”
Lambert described the encounter beginning with the officer approaching Bland’s vehicle from the passenger side, obtaining her license and registration, returning to the vehicle 3-4 minutes later on the driver’s side, and proceeding to ask Bland if something was wrong with her.
According to Lambert, Bland responded, “Yeah, you stopped me and I was trying to get out of your way — you were coming up on me and I moved out of your way and you pulled me over.”
Lambert continued his description of the video saying, “The officer is irritated by the fact that after he asks her to put her cigarette out please, she said, ‘I don’t feel like I have to put my cigarette out, it’s my car — I’m in my car.’”
At this time, according to Lambert, the officer asks Bland to get out of her car and opens Bland’s door. Bland said she didn’t want to get out of the car, and reaches for her cell phone to record the incident. The officer then pulls out his taser. Lambert explains at this point, Bland exits the vehicle.
When asked if the dash cam video captures Bland striking the officer, Lambert says, “I saw nothing on the video that shows her (Sandra Bland) making contact with the officer.”
Sharon Cooper, who had not seen the dash cam video at the time of this broadcast, detailed the last time she spoke with her sister. Cooper said, “The last time we spoke with her (Sandra Bland) was Saturday, July 11. She spoke with my older sister at about 1:50 in the afternoon to give us a debrief on the fact that she had been taken into custody for what she felt was truly an illegal lane change situation.”
“She shared with us she was concerned about the nature of why she was pulled in. It had not been shared with her what she was being charged with until just before she called us and she made it clear to us that her bond had been set at $5,000. She needed $500, which we were working expeditiously to receive and that was the very last time that we heard anything from her.”
The coroner in Harris County, TX who conducted the initial autopsy on Bland ruled she died by self-inflicted asphyxiation in her jail cell. An independent autopsy was conducted in Houston; Lambert told Martin that he expects to “hear some preliminary results in the next 72 hours or so.”
Watch Roland Martin, Texas State Sen. Rodney Ellis, Bland family Attorney Cannon Lambert, and Sandra Bland’s sister Sharon Cooper discuss the latest details of the case in the video clip above.
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