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Foster wants federal investigation into Bland death

Jul 24, 2015
In The News

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster has asked for a federal probe into the death of Naperville's Sandra Bland in a Texas jail.

In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Foster, a Naperville Democrat, asks for a "full and thorough" investigation into a traffic stop and Bland's death in a Waller County, Texas, jail.

"Her family and the community that loved her deserve the justice that comes with truth," the letter reads. "Whether there was or was not foul play or negligence leading up to her death, our society failed Ms. Bland."

Representatives of the Department of Justice didn't immediately return requests for comment.

Bland was arrested in a traffic stop three days before she was found in her cell on July 13.

Authorities say Bland killed herself in her jail cell following what video footage has shown to be a traffic stop that escalated into her arrest when the officer asked Bland to put out the cigarette she was smoking. Bland refused, asking why she couldn't smoke in her own car.

The trooper then ordered Bland to get out of the vehicle. She refused, and he threatened to drag her out of the car. At one point, he shouted at Bland, "I will light you up."

Bland's family has disputed the official report saying she hanged herself in jail. Bland's funeral is Saturday at the DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church in Lisle.

On Thursday, authorities said an autopsy of Bland's body didn't reveal any evidence of defensive struggles before her death.

Foster's letter comes as Bland's death has become another case in a national debate about police and the use of force, especially against black suspects.

"The circumstances of Ms. Bland's death are unclear and warrant an inquiry into the facts leading up to her arrest and what happened while she was in police custody," Foster's letter reads.