As Sandra Bland was laid to rest on Saturday, questions about the circumstances of her death continue to swirl. Here are 10 questions people are still asking about Bland, the activist who was found dead in a Texas jail cell three days after being arrested during a traffic stop. Authorities have ruled Bland’s death suicide by hanging. Both the traffic stop and Bland’s death are under investigation.
1. Why was Sandra Bland photographed in an orange jumpsuit, rather than in her street clothes?
A July 23 press release from the Waller County Sheriff’s office stated that when a prisoner is taken into the jail:
“The inmate is walked to the booking area where they are processed by the booking officer. Depending on how many inmates are being processed at this time, an inmate’s photograph may be taken in their original clothing or the inmate may be dressed out in orange. Their photograph is taken on the wall south of the booking officer’s desk. We should note that if the inmate is not standing directly in the center of the backdrop, a portion of the white wall may appear.”
Paul C. Looney, a trial attorney who practices in Waller County and Houston and who has been named by the Waller County Sheriff R. Glenn Smith to lead a task force on jail procedures, told msnbc the jumpsuit vs. street clothes question “could go either way.” He said that of his clients who have been booked into Waller County jail, “Typically [the booking photos] were taken in their own clothes, if there was somebody available to do it when they first walked in. In booking photos of my clients, I’ve seen it both ways.”
2. Why did an officer fill out the intake forms, rather than Bland herself, and why did her answers on suicide change?
The intake form, on which Bland indicated a past suicide attempt, but in which she also indicated she was not suicidal at the time, was filled out by the booking officer, as is customary in most jails. According to the July 23 press release from the Waller County Sheriff’s office: “Inmates are brought into the Waller County Jail intake section by the arresting officer. The arresting officer completes a Jail Book-in sheet and inventories the arrestee’s property. Jail staff meets with the arrestee and arresting officer and completes a Screening form for Suicide and Medical and Mental Impairments form and Texas Department of State Health Services Correctional Tuberculosis form. These forms are provided to the main control supervisor prior to the inmate being accepted.”
The release stated that any discrepancy in the information on the forms indicates that the inmate changed his or her answer.
3. Why wasn’t Bland placed on suicide watch?
An autopsy indicated marks on Bland’s wrists that are consistent with healing scars from past incidents of self-cutting. And the intake form indicated a past suicide attempt. Bland’s family reported that earlier this year, Bland had been distraught over the loss of a pregnancy, though the family has strongly disputed the notion that she committed suicide in jail. The Waller County Sherrif’s office acknowledged in the July 23 release that “Ms. Bland, based on Jail staff’s observations, was not placed on any formal suicide watch.”
Two women who were being housed in an adjacent cell have told local news mediathat Bland was distraught on Sunday night, the second night she spent in the jail, and that they wished that she had been housed with them, rather than by herself. One of the women, Alexandria Pyle, indicated that Bland was distraught that her calls to a friend who was supposed to be helping her meet the 10% requirement for her $5,000 bail had not been returned. (Bland left a voicemail for a friend, LaVaughn Morris, before she died.) And while Pyle told the local news outlet that she wished Bland had been housed with her and the other women rather than alone, according to the Sheriff’s office release, she was placed in cell 95, which was classified as a “medium to maximum security cell,” due to the offense she was charged with: assault on a law enforcement officer. The other women were being jailed on offenses in a different classification. The Waller County Sheriff’s office has admitted that there were issues with the jail staff’s training and protocols for checking regularly on inmates, but said they do not believe those factors contributed to Bland’s death.
4. Why was there a plastic trash can liner in Sandra Bland’s cell?
Most law enforcement professionals assert that when a prisoner is taken to jail, anything in their possession that could be used to harm themselves or others is taken away. Based on a press release from the Waller County Sheriff’s office, this jail is no different. Authorities have said Bland hanged herself with a plastic trash can liner that was in her cell.
“You know, as soon as I heard that I wondered what the hell was that doing there,” Looney said of the presence of the plastic bag. “I read a piece somewhere that said that they had been instructed to have liners in the trash cans, per a previous inspection. I guess I don’t understand why they would do that.”
A Texas Tribune article reported that hanging is the most common method of suicide in Texas jails, with bed linens, clothing, telephone or electrical cords and trash bags all having been used by inmates in the past. (Incidentally, of the 140 suicide deaths in Texas jails since 2009, Bland is the lone African-American woman among 15 female deaths.) The Waller County jail was cited by the state after a 2012 incident in which an inmate hung himself.
Elton Mathis, the Waller County district attorney, and his team have submitted the trash can liner found in Bland’s cell for further forensic analysis.
5. Was the death scene altered?
Photographs of Cell 95 from two different news outlets, including NBC News, show apparent alterations of the scene where Sandra Bland died. In one photograph, a pair of orange slippers, which can also be seen worn by a male inmate in the video of the EMS response to the discovery of Sandra Bland’s body, are at the foot of one of the beds in the cell, and a closed Bible is visible on the bed:
In another photo, the slippers are gone, and the Bible is open. The Waller County Sheriff’s office has not explained this discrepancy.
6. Could Sandra Bland have ingested marijuana in jail?
Bland was arrested on July 10 and held for three days. Toxicology tests during her autopsy showed the presence of a significant quantity of marijuana, according to the district attorney’s office. But the assistant district attorney, Warren Diepraam, on Thursday raised the possibility that Bland may have consumed or even smoked marijuana while she was inside the Waller County jail. Looney said that assertion “struck me as odd then, strikes me as odd now.” He said it seemed implausible that any inmate, having had their personal effects removed at intake, could have taken drugs with them into their cell, let alone used them undetected while inside their cell. Diepraam himself indicated on Thursday that no other inmates reported smelling marijuana while Bland was being held at the jail. And Diepraam indicated that THC, the principal drug component of marijuana, could have been in Ms. Bland’s system before her arrest, in sufficient quantities to still be detectable after several days.
It should be noted that to many legal experts, the issue of marijuana is irrelevant, and many Black Lives Matter movement supporters believe the district attorney’s focus on drugs is meant to disparage the deceased.
7. Why wasn’t Bland’s epilepsy tested for or treated?
Bland’s intake form included a check mark for “yes” on epilepsy, and she can be heard on the police dashcam video telling the arresting officer that she suffered from the illness. However, the autopsy did not include a test for epilepsy, and the sheriff’s office said Bland “was offered Emergency Medical Services prior to being transported to the jail” but that she “refused any medical treatment.”
8. Was there evidence that Sandra Bland was injured during the arrest?
The autopsy did indicate lacerations on Ms. Bland’s back that were consistent with a knee potentially being applied to her back, and the remnants of a leaf lodged in one of the lacerations on her back. Lacerations on her wrist were consistent with the application of handcuffs.
9. Why has no action been taken against the arresting officer?
The arresting officer, trooper Brian Encina, has been placed on desk duty, and the Texas Department of Public Safety has stated publicly that he violated departmental policies in his conduct during the traffic stop. At this time, the Texas Rangers and DPS are conducting their own investigations into the traffic stop, as is a different assistant district attorney, Mia Magnus, who would be activated in the event that criminal violations are found. That investigation is separate from the Sandra Bland death investigation. District Attorney Mathis has said no evidence of criminal behavior has been uncovered so far.
10. Why was there no side profile picture of Ms. Bland in her mugshot?
The question of the “missing” side mugshot has been cited by some who doubt that Ms. Bland was alive at the time her booking photo was taken. However, there is a side profile picture that was included in the booking form. That photo, which is quite dark, has not been circulated in the media, but it does exist. (Please note: an earlier version of this article did not refer to the profile photo, and included a comment from attorney Looney stating that he has seen photos of his clients with and without the side profile shot.)
This articles was originally seen on msnbc
80 Million Stimulus Check Direct Deposits Have Been Processed. When Will They Arrive?
Americans will start to see their stimulus payments this week, a centerpiece of the $2.2 trillion rescue package meant to provide a buffer against the coronavirus pandemic that’s shuttered much of the U.S. economy.
The Internal Revenue Service has begun sending $1,200 payments to middle and lower income adults, plus $500 for their minor children, though it could take until September for every eligible person to get the money.
The first payments “should be deposited directly into individuals’ bank accounts; the precise date you will see payments in your account depends on how long individual banks typically take to process direct deposits,” according to a press release from House Ways and Means Committee Republicans.
The IRS will first send the money to individuals for whom the agency has direct deposit information. The remainder will be mailed as checks. That process is expected to begin April 20 but could take until the fall to complete.
The IRS processed more than 80 million payments on Friday that should be available in bank accounts early this week, Sunita Lough, the IRS deputy commissioner for services and enforcement, said in a video conference Monday.
Payments will be made first to those earning the least.
The IRS has launched a tool for non-tax filers, such as those who had income under $12,200 last year and weren’t required to file a federal return, to enter direct deposit information to get their payments.
The agency plans to have a second website up by April 17 that will show people the status of their payments, including the date the money is scheduled to be deposited or mailed. That tool will also let people who’ve typically gotten their tax refund in the mail to provide their bank account details to get their stimulus payment more quickly.
The IRS is using information from 2018 and 2019 tax returns to process the payments. It says taxpayers who’ve yet to file a return this year should do so as soon as possible, and elect to receive the refund via a direct deposit. The information can then be used to distribute the stimulus payments. Social Security and disability recipients will receive their payments automatically.
The tax deadline was extended to July 15 from April 15 to give people more time to file and pay during the pandemic.
Taxpayers who don’t need extra time and who expect to get a stimulus payment should file as soon as possible so the agency has their most up-to-date details on file, said Christina Taylor, head of operations for Credit Karma Tax.
“The quicker, the better,” she said.
Americans earning $75,000 or less, or $150,000 and below as a couple, are eligible for the full $1,200 payout per adult, plus $500 for each child under 17. Those amounts are reduced for people with higher incomes, and people who make $99,000 or more in earnings (or $198,000 for a couple) get nothing, even if they have children. Individuals must have a Social Security number to receive a payment.
A Case of Hantavirus Has Been Reported in China. Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Worry.
A man who died in China Monday reportedly tested positive for a hantavirus, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should worry another pandemic is coming…
A man who died in China Monday reportedly tested positive for a hantavirus, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should worry another pandemic is coming.
Hantaviruses are a family of virus that spread through rodents, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Yunnan Province, a man died on his way back to Shandong Province, according to Global Times, an English-language Chinese news outlet.
“He was tested positive for #hantavirus. Other 32 people on bus were tested,” the news outlet tweeted.
The tweet, sent amid a pandemic caused by a new coronavirus, has been shared more than 15,000 times.
Though countries across the globe are on high alert due to uncertainty around the coronavirus, there is no indication that the hantavirus poses a global public health threat.
According to the CDC, hantavirus cases are rare, and they spread as a result of close contact with rodent urine, droppings or saliva.
Certain kinds of rats and mice in the United States can carry the virus, which is transmitted when someone breathes in contaminated air.
“The hantaviruses that cause human illness in the United States cannot be transmitted from one person to another,” the CDC says on its website. Rare cases in Chile and Argentina have seen person-to-person transmission when a person is in close contact with someone sickened by a type of hantavirus called Andes virus, the CDC says.
In the U.S., the virus can cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, a severe respiratory disease that can be fatal. Symptoms include fatigue, fever, muscle aches, headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal problems. Coughing and shortness of breath can occur later in the disease as the lungs fill with liquid, the CDC says,
Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, found mostly in Europe and Asia, can also occur, which causes pain, fever, chills, nausea, and blurred vision, the CDC says. More serious symptoms include acute kidney failure.
Cases in the United States have typically been concentrated in the western and southwestern states.
From 1993 to 2017, there were only 728 confirmed hantavirus cases in the United States, with most being non-fatal, according to CDC data. In comparison, since late January, when the first known coronavirus case was identified in the U.S., there have been 46,805 confirmed coronavirus cases nationwide, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.
In May 1993, a hantavirus outbreak occurred in an area between Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. A 2012 outbreak in Yosemite sickened 10 people. In seven states, 17 people were infected in a 2017 outbreak.
Developments in Presidential Race, Trump does Terribly at Forum as Clinton shines
November is lurking around the corner and will be here before you know it, so my question to you is, have you decided who you will vote for? I have, and I proudly say my choice is Hillary Rodham Clinton. I am informing you all that there are ample development in the race for the presidency of the United States…
November is lurking around the corner and will be here before you know it, so my question to you is, have you decided who you will vote for? I have, and I proudly say my choice is Hillary Rodham Clinton. I am informing you all that there are ample development in the race for the presidency of the United States.
First of all, Donald Trump, according to Kristina Vong’s article at Thehill.com, wrongly corrected a veteran Marine during a forum. The veteran, a woman named Rachel Fredericks, asked Mr. Trump how he plans to stop 20 veterans from committing suicide, daily. Trump tried to correct the woman, who needed no correction. He said it is actually 22, trying to emerge correct, when he was essentially incorrect.
Mr. Trump also does not have a real plan to defeat ISIS, as “his plan is to have a plan” according to Igor Bobic at the Huffington Post. He also insulted military leaders calling them embarrassments to the country when they were under President Obama. He wants to give the generals 30 days to come up with a plan to defeat ISIS. Of course, this even makes it more obvious that Mr. Trump does not have a plan to defeat ISIS. Why, then did he call our current president the founder of ISIS? How can you give your vote to someone so unprepared and unfit for the presidency that constitutes a whole country? Sorry to say, but Donald Trump is not someone to vote for, at least not as US President!
According to Sean Colarossi at PoliticusUSA.com, a presidential forum highlighted how prepared Trump and Clinton are compared to each other, with Clinton appearing as the more prepared one, very easily. Clinton was engaged with questions, expressed gratitude, and was very prolific and intelligible in her responses. To reiterate, Trump has not a plan to defeat ISIS, where Hillary has a well thought-out plan. She outlined her plan, entailing it could take any form and she iterated and supports the idea that terror suspects should not be able to purchase firearms. Clinton also covered issues like mental health, illuminating the fact that it is overlooked, and mental health should no longer be stigmatized and victims of mental disorders should have access to resources. On the other hand, Trump gave generic answers like that he knows what is going on in the world. Also according to Colarossi’s article, Trump showed as an “empty suit” and “showed he is not prepared to be commander-in-chief” and that the contrast between him and Clinton could not be clearer”; this essentially means Clinton showed to be immensely more prepared to lead and did not focus on attacking others, like Trump’s approach does.
Lastly, Donald Trump has insulted women, children, ethnic groups, religious groups, his opponent, our current president, the military, and the list goes on. He is patronizing and unprepared to preside over our country as well. He constantly attacks others, with no action in mind. Consider if you want to have him as president, seriously!
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