Conspiracy theories have been floating around the Internet since Sandra Bland was found dead in her jail cell three days after she was arrested. Waller County authorities have released a video of Bland during intake and booking to debunk at least some of the theories that suspicious social media users have been spreading. According to CNN, the video shows a handcuffed, coherent, and cooperative Bland being brought into the jail, where her handcuffs are removed during an initial intake. The Associated Press reports that Waller County Judge Trey Duhon said the video was released to fight what he called misinformation about her death — specifically, the claim that Bland was dead before arriving at the jail, a theory this video clearly disproves.
The theories surrounding her death have led to cyberattacks and death threats against Waller County officials, the judge alleges. Duhon specifically singled out the hacking group Anonymous, which claimed Bland may have been dead in her mugshot. "Sandra Bland was alive and well," until July 13, Duhon claimed. According to CNN, he said:
The reason we're doing this is because of the misinformation that has been put out — both through social media and even through mainstream media — that has led to the rumors that Sandra Bland was in some way deceased, or harmed, or not well when she was brought in to the Waller County Jail.
And Duhon preemptively pointed out, as some people will continue to doubt this newly-released footage, that the video has not been altered in any way.
The video shows Bland — dressed in an orange jumpsuit — having her mugshot taken. It also shows another inmate earlier in the video, and he's also dressed in prison orange. These two things are important for a couple of reasons. The video disproves the idea that it was that odd she was dressed in a jumpsuit for her mugshot, as the other inmate, also in booking, is wearing the same thing, which means it's at least a slightly common practice. It also rejects the idea that the mugshot was taken while Bland was lying on the floor. It also shows her side mugshot being taken, as some social media users have called for a better-quality photo than what has been released.
And sadly, it also shows an emotional Bland holding her head in her hands and wiping away tears.
While there are still many questions regarding Bland's death, which has been ruled a suicide by hanging, this video provides answers to some of the many questions people have had. Her unnecessary arrest and subsequent death remain tragedies, but hopefully, this will help to quell some of the more unbelievable claims.
Images: Waller County Jail, CNN/YouTube