Social media users have begun to speculate that Sandra Bland was dead when Waller County, Texas, police took her mug shot. The speculation comes after reports revealed that Bland’s death in police custody was declared a suicide.
Twitter users focused on apparent inconsistencies in the case of Bland, who was pulled over for failing to signal a lane change and later arrested for allegedly assaulting a Texas state trooper who had apparently violated some procedures.
Bland died days later in her jail cell, leading many to believe she was murdered. Her death has been ruled a suicide, reports Heavy.
Users on Facebook, Twitter and possibly other social media point to the fact that Bland is seen in her booking photo wearing an orange jumpsuit. These photos are generally taken during processing, but gallery of mug shots of others booked at the jail shows only a few who were wearing the suits in their photos.
“Depending on how many inmates are being processed at this time, an inmate’s photograph may be taken in their original clothing, or the inmate may be dress out in orange,” sheriff officials said in a statement, reports BuzzFeed.
A Twitter user who alleged Bland was dead when the photo was taken claims the background was actually the floor of the cell. The user also pointed out that Bland’s hair appears to fall behind her head instead of down, which users believe indicates she was on her back.
Other sources of speculation have been her flushed face and red nose, though some social media users have pointed out that Bland was likely crying. The position of Bland’s shoulders has both fueled conspiracies that she was dead and served as evidence for those who think otherwise, according to The Independent.
Other inconsistencies in jail document have fueled speculation. Bree Newsome, who drew headlines when she illegally removed the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state capitol, posted images of jail documents with contradicting statements on whether Bland had ever tried to kill herself. Some documents say Bland had never attempted suicide, others say that she did in 2014, and another in 2015, according to Inquisitr.
Beyond the mug shot conspiracy, speculation has also surrounded the video of the arrest, some claiming it was doctored by officials. Prominent filmmaker Ava DuVernay, who directed "Selma," took issue with the video of Bland’s arrest, writing on Twitter: “I edit footage for a living. But anyone can see that this official video has been cut.”