Authorities release autopsy results in Sandra Bland’s death

Updated

WALLER COUNTY, Texas — Authorities released in full the long-awaited autopsy results for Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old whose death inside a jail here was met with disbelief by her family and members of her fellow activist community. But the report did not include toxicology results, leaving questions unanswered about preliminary reports suggesting Bland consumed a large amount of marijuana shortly before her death.

“We have found no evidence whatsoever in here that marijuana was smoked in that cell,” said Sheriff Glenn Smith. He added that investigators swept through every inch of Bland’s cell and even hired a local plumber to check the sewage drains for traces of marijuana.

The report provides the most concrete answers yet in uncovering details of how her body was found hanging by a plastic garbage bag inside her jail cell on July 13. Bland’s death has been mired in public skepticism, prompting the Waller County district attorney’s office to treat her case as a murder investigation as more questions than answers have continued to stack up.

RELATED: Missed warning signs in Sandra Bland’s death

Coroners from the nearby Harris County found that the cause of Bland’s death was suicide by hanging and said authorities have not discovered evidence that would suggest a physical struggle or murder. A day earlier, Assistant District Attorney Warren K. Diepraam went through painstaking detail to describe the analysis of wounds and marks on Bland’s body, using a powerpoint presentation with graphic pictures to show evidence that he said was consistent with suicide. 

Authorities have yet to release a comprehensive toxicology report that would show whether Bland either smoked or ingested large amounts of marijuana prior to her death. Preliminary results suggested that the drug was present in her system when she died three days after her arrest, leaving open to prosecutors the possibility that she may have consumed marijuana inside her jail cell.

“We have no idea where she may have ingested the marijuana,” Diepraam said.

Medical examiners also found scrapes on Bland’s back that were consistent with a person applying pressure with their knee to her back. There was a small leaf found in the healing cut, suggesting that the wound was still relatively fresh at the time of Bland’s death.

Three days prior to her death, Bland was pulled over by Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia for not properly signaling when changing lanes in Prairie View, Texas. The two got in a verbal fight, and a physical altercation ensued. Video purportedly captured by a witness and not independently verified by NBC News went viral, showing the hostile interaction as Encinia placed handcuffs on Bland. 

“Hey! You just slammed my head to the ground!” the woman identified as Bland yells in the clip. “You do not even care about that? I can’t even hear!” 

Bland’s family ordered a second, independent autopsy of their own. Those results are still pending. In the meantime, the family is preparing funeral arrangements in her Illinois hometown. 

“I want Sandy to be remembered as an activist, sassy, smart and she knew her rights,” her mother, Geneva Read Veal, said in an interview with msnbc’s Al Sharpton Thursday night.

Sandra Bland and Texas

Authorities release autopsy results in Sandra Bland's death

Updated