Prosecutor: Woman's autopsy revealed no evidence of homicide

Sharon Cooper, sister of Sandra Bland, addresses the media during a news conference Wednesday at Dupage African Methodist Episcopal Church in Lisle, Illinois. (Matt Marton ~ Associated Press)

HEMPSTEAD, Texas -- The autopsy of a black woman who was found dead in a Texas jail revealed no injuries that would suggest she was killed by someone else, authorities said Thursday.

Waller County prosecutor Warren Diepraam said the autopsy showed 28-year-old Sandra Bland had no defensive injuries on her hands that typically would indicate a struggle.

Some lacerations or abrasions were found on her wrists. Those were consistent with a struggle while being handcuffed. The marks around Bland's neck were consistent with a suicide by hanging, Diepraam said.

Bland also had about 30 small cuts on her wrist that probably were self-inflicted within the last few weeks, he added.

She was arrested in a traffic stop three days before she was found in her cell July 13. Her family and friends dispute the official finding she killed herself using a noose fashioned from a plastic garbage bag.

Texas Rangers and the FBI are investigating.

Also Thursday, the woman's sister confirmed Bland had taken prescription medication for seizures in the past.

Booking documents filled out for Bland after her arrest indicate she told staff at the jail she had epilepsy and was taking medication for it. The forms identify the drug as Keppra.

Other forms, however, say she was not taking medication.

Company information on Keppra, which is sold in regular and extended-release forms, says "antiepileptic drugs, including Keppra and Keppra XR, may cause suicidal thoughts or actions in a very small number of people, about 1 in 500."

Sharon Cooper said her sister suffered from seizures about a decade ago but had not had any in recent years and was not on medication.

The medication was not the only inconsistency in the jail-intake papers. One questionnaire said Bland took pills in 2015 in an attempt to kill herself after losing a baby. A separate form filled out by another jail employee said the suicide attempt occurred in 2014.

Cooper said her sister had a miscarriage in May 2014 but got through it. Cooper also said she was not aware of any suicide attempt.

Asked whether her sister could have been getting treatment without relatives knowing, Cooper said the family's five sisters were "above board" with each other and, if anything, "overshared."

"If it was happening, I would have known," she said.

Preliminary results of an independent autopsy arranged by the family showed bruising to deep muscle tissue in Bland's back, consistent with the officer having his knee there, Cooper said.

She would not say whether there were other findings. Full results will not be in for a couple of weeks.

A woman who occupied a jail cell next to Bland said the Chicago-area woman was emotional and wept often during her three days in jail.

Alexandria Pyle told Houston television station KTRK Bland was "sort of distraught" a friend had not come to bail her out of jail. She said Bland told her she "was not equipped" for incarceration and thought she was the victim of an injustice.

Pyle said she heard no signs of a struggle in the cell.

Preliminary results of the Texas autopsy also showed Bland had marijuana in her system. The drug-test results are worth noting because they could be "relevant to her state of mind," Diepraam said.

Authorities said any contradictions in the jail documents were the result of Bland's inconsistent answers to jailers' questions.

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