The prosecutor in the Sandra Bland death investigation said Monday he has appointed an outside group of lawyers to review the evidence in the case to ensure that Waller County remains “an open book.”
Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis also released the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences’ toxicology report on Bland without commenting on it. The report showed that Bland had marijuana in her bloodstream at the time of her death.
“It is important for this county and for this investigation and any subsequent prosecution that it be based on credible evidence and not rumors,” Mathis said.
The committee members — Houston attorneys Lewis White and Darrell Jordan are the only two named so far — will be able to independently examine all evidence Mathis’ office is reviewing.
“There are many questions regarding the death of Sandra Bland, and I’ve asked Mr. White and Mr. Jordan to assist me asking those hard questions and making sure they are answered timely and appropriately as the evidence takes shape and is presented to my office,” Mathis said.
Bland, 28, was found hanged in the Waller County Jail on July 13, three days after she was arrested following a traffic stop in Prairie View, about 50 miles northeast of Houston.
A video of that traffic stop released last week showed Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Brian Encinia quickly losing his temper with an irritated Bland, ordering her to get out of her car and, when she failed to do so, threatening to use a Taser on her, promising to “light you up” if she did not comply.
Since then, the case, the latest in a string of incidents involving police harassment and brutality this year, has gained worldwide attention.
A medical examiner in neighboring Harris County has already ruled Bland’s death a suicide by hanging. Mathis plans to take Bland’s death to a grand jury regardless.
Sophia Bollag contributed to this story.