New audio recordings released in Sandra Bland death investigation

Wednesday, February 3, 2016
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We're hearing audio recordings from the death investigation of Sandra Bland, the Waller County inmate who was found dead inside her jail cell.

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Eyewitness News has obtained new audio recordings related to the in-custody death of Sandra Bland.

In the recordings dated July 2015, a Lieutenant with the Waller County Sheriff's Office questions two inmates who talked with Sandra Bland during her time in jail. The questioning centers around Bland's possible marijuana use. The following is an excerpt from those recordings.

Waller County Investigator: "At any time did you smell any marijuana or anything like that? Was she smoking marijuana, talk about having marijuana?"

Alexandria Pyle. "No."

Waller County Investigator: "And she never mentioned about having marijuana or anything on her persons?"

Pyle: "No."

Waller County Investigator: "OK. Alright. Well that's all the questions I have for you right now."

Cannon Lambert represents the Bland family in a civil lawsuit. He said the recordings he provided to Eyewitness News show the Waller County Sheriff's Office only focused on Bland's marijuana use.

"You can't say you're going to treat this as a murder investigation and then only focus on information that would help to disparage a victim," Lambert said.

Bland's mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, said she was shocked to find out the investigator's interviews with the two women ended after a few questions about marijuana.

"At the end of the second interview, I said, really? And so I was waiting for the rest to come. I just felt like being in a position to interview someone directly in contact with Sandy would have been an outstanding opportunity to ask more than two questions about her," Reed-Veal said.

Reed-Veal said she wanted to know so much more about her daughter's last days.

"I mean, did she say anything about harming herself? Was she eating? Was she crying? Was she combative? These are things that you would want to know about," Reed-Veal said. "Who did she interact with, who came in and out of her cell? What officers? How many officers?"

The Waller County Sheriff's Office conducted its own investigation before the Texas Rangers became involved and special prosecutors were appointed to look for any criminal wrongdoing. According to special prosecutors, the Texas Rangers conducted additional interviews with inmates who came in contact with Bland and asked a wide range of questions unrelated to possible marijuana use.

Eyewitness News reached out to the attorney representing Waller County in the civil lawsuit. At the time of publication, he had not returned our call.