Before she was found dead of apparent suicide in a Texas jail cell, Sandra Bland called a bail bondsman hoping to get out.
“I talked to her when she first went to jail,” Joe Booker of Hempstead told The Daily Beast on Thursday. “I called her mother for her.”
Booker then hung up and didn’t respond to further requests for comment. It would have cost friends or family $500 to bail out Bland, Captain Brian Cantrell of the Waller County Sheriff’s Office said.
Why she would take her own life after apparently working with Booker to secure her freedom is one of many questions surrounding her death.
“Based on the Sandy I know, that’s unfathomable to me,” Bland’s sister Sharon said at a press conference.
Bland did, however, say in March that she was dealing with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I gotta be honest with you guys,” she told people in a Facebook video, “I’ve been dealing with something that some of you all may be dealing with now. It’s a little bit of depression as well as PTSD.”
Bland also expressed her faith in God, who “blocked that depressing moment in my mind.” Bland closed the video with an apology for her lack of posts, saying, “Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder are things that affect everyone—black, white, it does not matter.”
Bland’s body was discovered by a jail worker on Monday morning. Bland was hanging by unspecified means—police said she did not have shoelaces or a blanket in her cell. An autopsy performed Tuesday listed Bland’s cause of death as suicide by asphyxiation, but her family and many people online suspect foul play. (The autopsy report which contains that and much more detailed information has not yet been made available.) The Texas Rangers said they are investigating her death, and the Bland family has retained an attorney.
At 7 a.m. Monday, Bland reportedly asked to make a phone call. Two hours later, she was found dead.
Bland was pulled over by a Texas Department of Public Safety officer on Friday afternoon for changing lanes without signaling, according to the Houston Chronicle. Bland reportedly struggled with the officer, who at some point was joined by another cop, both of whom are seen struggling with Bland on the ground in a video taken by a motorist.
“I can’t even fucking feel my arms,” Bland is heard saying on video, calling the officers “motherfuckers” several times. “You just slammed my head into the ground, do you not even care about that? I can’t even hear!”
One of the officers tells the person recording the video, “You need to leave.”
As Bland is being walked to a police car, she speaks again.
“Thank you for recording! Thank you! For a traffic signal, slammed me into the ground and everything!”
Bland’s sister told the Associated Press on Thursday that Sandra called her from jail after the arrest and said she believed her arm had been broken by police.
Bland had recently moved to Texas from the Chicago area, according to her family, and was preparing to start a new job. Bland had lived in Texas while attending Texas Prairie View A&M and had previous interactions with police for minor offenses.
Bland pleaded guilty to misdemeanor marijuana possession in 2010 and paid $373 in fines, according to court records. A 2009 drug paraphernalia charge was dismissed in Harris County, court records also show. Her driver’s license had been suspended three times prior to last year, and she was on court supervision in Illinois, according to the Chicago Tribune. On July 31, Bland’s license was set to be suspended again, the Tribune reported.
Bland spoke out against police, the deaths of blacks at the hands of law enforcement, and other issues affecting the African-American community on her Facebook page. She called the video dispatches “Sandy Speaks.” In one, she took on the subject of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“What I need you guys to understand is that being a black person in America is very, very hard,” she recently said.
This story has been updated.