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Sandra Bland Died Because Of A Typical Cop Ego Trip

Written by Devtome contributor Bomac

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Sandra Bland, a 28 year old black woman was recently found dead in her Texas jail cell, purportedly from a suicidal hanging via a plastic garbage bag.

There is controversy regarding whether she actually killed herself or was murdered, but for the most part, that is not the focus of this opinion piece, which will mainly revolve around whether she should have been arrested in the first place. You will read assumptions below, along the lines of, “If only X would not have occurred, Ms. Bland would still be alive.” That, of course, is presuming, either that it simply wasn't her fate – her singularly appointed time to leave Earth this time around – or that by pure coincidence, she would not have been killed in some random fashion, had she not have gone to jail.

2.5 Schools Of Thought

There are a few main schools of thought upon this tragedy. We could call it three, by I'm calling it two and a half.

1) It's the cop's fault for being egomaniacal & needing to have his ass kissed

2) It's Ms. Bland's fault for not kissing his ass

[Please note that most individuals who blame Bland will disagree with my assessment regarding ass kissing. They will claim that her bad attitude, culminating in her refusal to follow the cop's “lawful order” resulted in her arrest. They will steer clear of anything that smacks of 'ass kissing', but as far as this writer is concerned, that's merely a matter of I say, “tomato,” and they say, “tomahto.”]

2.5) They were both at fault equally.

My Reason For Choosing # 1

I believe people who choose # 2 (or # 2.5) have validity to their opinions – especially if they are honest enough to admit the cop's need to be brown nosed. In the past, I could easily assert that I would not have been arrested simply because I would have guaranteed to kiss cop ass, as I always used to do.

That has changed in the past several months when I made a conscious decision that Americans need to stand up for their rights when dealing with cops, even though in some cases it may lead to being arrested, when simply kissing ass would have avoided the arrest. I speak about it at length in this Devtome contribution. The reason I now take that stance is primarily two-fold.

  • We are losing our liberties as government has run amok and we are sliding into tyranny. If enough people signal that we are not going to allow this to happen with our consent and without a reaction, we can slow down this despotic train & arguably, even prevent it from crashing and burning.
  • By not exercising our rights with cops we are more likely to suffer harmful consequences than we are by exercising them. Yes, in some cases it may lead to arrest (and even worse), but in the aggregate, exercising your rights will save your ass more times than it will hurt it. (It's kind of like wearing seat belts. Sometimes seat belts cause death, but significantly more times, they prevent death.)

If you watch this video, you will see that the officer was completing his stop. He had written the citation in his car, and all he needed was to get her signature and give any quick instructions regarding how to deal with the citation.

As it turns out, there wouldn't have been any instructions since the citation was evidently a warning. No fine would need to be paid, nor was a court appearance required. This is being used as fodder by individuals who ascribed to # 2, above. She was going to get off without even an actual ticket, 'if only she just would have shown a good attitude, like most people do,' these people will tell you.

Truth be told, they are right, but so are those of us who ascribe to # 1. The cop, clearly, undebatably, needed to have his butt kissed. When she refused to kiss it (by extinguishing her cigarette in her own car), that's when the trouble began.

Nobody Should Ever Be Arrested For Refusal To Kiss Cop Ass

Cops are always threatening to arrest people for looking at them the wrong way, or for asking certain questions, or for taking their picture or for giving them the kind of attitude they don't like, or for any number of things that are not only 100% ego driven, but are also not illegal.1) These are not just empty threats. If the citizens they threaten do not comply immediately, they get arrested.

They don't always give a warning either. They often simply arrest the person for wounding their sense of ego and entitlement. Many cops, perhaps the vast majority of cops, have a god complex. They want to be treated like gods, so it's true, that if Sandra Bland had treated this Texas cop like the god that he wanted to be treated like, she would still be alive today.

Make No Mistake - It's All About The Cigarette

I absolutely guarantee you that this arrest hinged upon Bland's refusal to put out her cigarette. So here is a list of several more, “If only's” –

  • If only Bland would have put out her cigarette when the cop asked if she would put out her cigarette, she would still be alive.
  • If only Bland would have held off on smoking until after the cop let her go on her way, she would still be alive.
  • If only Bland would have never started smoking, presumably as a typical teenager trying to look grown up, she would still be alive.
  • If only Bland would have realized what a dead end habit smoking is, and would have quit, she would still be alive.
  • If only Bland had run out of cigarettes, she would still be alive.
  • If only Bland didn't have a way to light her cigarette, she would still be alive.
  • If only the mental midget of a cop did not feel he had the right to make people put out their cigarettes when they are sitting in their own cars, and if only he would have not been so butt hurt that Bland stood up for her right to smoke in her own car, Ms. Bland would still be alive.

All of the above are true. He was literally seconds away from finishing up the traffic stop and being back in his car, but as soon as she said she didn't have to stop smoking in her own car, he immediately ordered her out of her car and he opened her door and put his hands on her.

This reminds me of a Saturday Night Live skit, the third year the show was on. Bill Murray and Dan Ackroyd were playing cops. They find a young upwardly mobile couple, played by Jane Curtain & John Belushi smoking weed. Murray repeatedly pounds Belushi's head against the wall until he's dead. Ackroyd says, “Another marijuana related death.” Well, in this case, perhaps the cop should have made a statement to the media when he learned about Ms. Blands death in the jail he sent her to: “What we have here is another tobacco related death, as if we needed more proof that cigarettes harm the quality of smokers' lives and take years off their life spans.

More Than Words

If you watch the video, you will see that after pushing her buttons, goading her into complaining, the words he uses to ask her to extinguish her cigarette, seem rather courteous. (Of course, even if he were being courteous, there was no reason to force her out of the car for not getting his way.) Communication experts have long been aware that more than the words that are used, meaning is conveyed in other aspects, especially tone of voice, emphasis on certain words, and other factors.

Did you hear the way he asked her? What a textbook example of the fact that words can mean nothing when compared with the intention & the inflection behind them. I see it in relationships with couples where one member intentionally uses a tone of voice to convey a completely different set of emotions beyond what the words she is using are conveying. Then she says, “What are you upset about? All I asked was…” and then she says the exact same words without the tone and possibly without the emphasis on a particular word. It is the height of obnoxious, manipulative behavior.

In this case, the cop said, “Would you mind putting out your cigarette please?” If you are perceptive at all in terms of vocal intonations, you are 100% aware that he is not really being polite, but only using polite phrasing. You can also tell that he isn't really asking, rather than telling. The implication is, “I'm asking you politely so you better do the right thing and put your cigarette out for me.”

Nobody Hates Cigarettes More Than This Devtome Contributor

I'd bet my last dollar that he is like me in his disdain for tobacco smoke, but if I were a cop, I'd never embarrass myself by ordering somebody out of their car simply because they stood up for their right to smoke in their vehicle. I do, though, totally understand why the cop can't stand being around cigarette smoke, but he's evidently so immature, he has yet to learn that you can't always get what you want.

Tobacco smoke affects my breathing and the smell gets in my clothes and hair and does not go away until being washed. If somebody smokes a single cigarette in my home, I can smell it days later, which is why I do not allow anybody to smoke in my home, even if I am not there at the time they would smoke it.

I try to never be in a situation where I'm getting a ride from a smoker, but if it happens, I apologize for requesting that they hold their cigarette out the window, while I basically hold my head out another window. I thank them sincerely when they comply, because I'm asking them to go out of their way for me, when they are in their own space.

I virtually never visit anybody who smokes at their home, because there are not screenless windows where they can easily stick their cigarette out of and I can stick my head out. This has resulted in not spending time with good friends. There have been some awesome & attractive women with whom we shared an attraction, and a romantic relationship was a possibility, but since they were smokers, I did not pursue it.

That is how much I can't deal with cigarette smoke, so I can relate to the cop not wanting to be around cigarette smoke. In fact, I would bet my last dollar that cigarette smoke affects me much worse than it affects him. My one super power is the uncanny ability to smell (and feel pain in my lungs) whenever someone is smoking within hundreds of feel from me.

The difference between that cop and me is I would never expect someone to stop smoking in their own car. I would never ask them to stop smoking in their own car. I would have made sure that I finished up my task with her as quickly as possible, but that's not what that childish man did.

More Than Words Revisited

He goaded her into talking. He had seen that she was quite upset, so he walked back up to her window, when all he needed was her signature, her said, “Are you alright?” Again, this is a case where the words, in & of themselves, do not reflect the intentions of the person saying them.

Those are the same words a person who is giving aid to another person would say, but that was not what was going on there. This psychologically depraved man, who is payed from public funds and is supposed to be a public servant, was rubbing salt into her wound.

He then went on to say that she really seemed upset. Again, this is more salt. It's more goading. He's flexing his power. I'm about to give an extreme example, to clarify what he was doing, even though it obviously wasn't nearly as bad. Imagine if he were raping her and said the same words: “Are you alright? You seem upset.”

Do you understand what he was doing? He was not raping her, of course, but he knew that what he was doing was the source of great upset for her. He did not like the fact that she had let him know she was so upset, so he said those thing to push her buttons.

Like most cops, he likes it when people play the game of not showing their true feelings around and about him, but instead, showing respect for his power & authority. Since she did not do that, then he was going to get off on some psychological manipulation. Even though, he can't stand being around cigarettes, he provoked her into venting, which put him in the position of being close to her cigarette smoke longer than was required.

Absolutely Not Motivated By Safety Concerns

That is when he asked her to put her cigarette out. When she refused on the grounds that she had the right to smoke in her own car, he immediately told her to step out of the car. Cops are trained to get people out of the car when they feel it helps with their safety. Clearly, there was nothing safety related about that order for her to exit the vehicle.

He was mere seconds – a quick signature & closing schpiel – away from being done with the stop. Anybody who says he was concerned for his safety is lying. There are people, almost certainly cops themselves, on YouTube, making that comment. It is totally disingenuous.

If the order had come earlier, I might feel it were dubious that he was concerned for his safety, but I'd have to allow for the benefit of the doubt. However, the fact that he was a minute (or less) away from the end of the stop, and the order came directly in response to her refusal to put out her cigarette, based on the reasoning that she was in her own car, it is absolutely undeniable that the only reason he ordered her to exit the car was so that she would no longer be able to claim she had the right to refuse his request to put out her cigarette.

Although it is a bit of a stretch, a person standing outside their vehicle could lunge at a cop and put their cigarette in the cop's eye, so there might be a tad of a believability factor that the cop needs the cigarette out for safety purposes. When the cop is simply ready to end the legal detention (traffic stop) as soon as he gets the required citation signature, especially coming on the heels of causing extraneous conversation while the detainee was already smoking, then it is clearly impossible to claim with one iota of integrity or honesty, that the cop had a safety issue for getting her out of her car, so he could lawfully require her to put out her cigarette.

Lying Liars Cop Pants On Fires

There are cops (or wannabe cops) on YouTube arguing that she could have thrown her cigarette at the cop from inside her car, and therefore it was a lawful order for her to put out her cigarette in her car. Those people are absolutely embarrassing themselves with such transparent, childish claims. That level of lying is beyond silly, but cops are some of the biggest liars known to humanity.

They are not only allowed to lie to citizens in order to get information and confessions, but they illegally lie on their own reports and in courts of law. Everybody who knows cops knows this is true. Every defense attorney knows this is true. It's not even debatable. Are there some cops who don't lie? I believe there must be, but I doubt they are a large percentage.

It would be very hard to be in good standing with your fellow officers when you refuse to back them up when they need you to lie for them to cover up their illegal dealings with the public. Even if you are moral and respectful with the people you are serving, you would find yourself in situations where other cops expect you to lie.

So there was no safety issue regarding the request to stop smoking or the order to get Bland out of her car. Therefore, it was not a lawful order. Cop apologists think that any order a cop gives someone is a lawful order. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ordering detainees out of vehicles may generally be lawful, but it's not when the cop is simply upset when the detainee refuses a request to put out her cigarette & he was a signature away from the end of the routine traffic stop detention.

Clearly, the cop has major psychological maladies in play. He should never have been allowed to become a cop, but unfortunately, it's impossible to ferret out all the mental midgets in the screening and training process.

For those who say that Bland had psychological issues of her own, they may very well be correct. The point here is that Bland was not the public servant entrusted with a crucial job requiring tremendous maturity and responsibility. When you take on the job of a law enforcement officer, you have to be mature in your dealings with the public, many of whom will be immature, and many whom will not appreciate you, and many whom will display some attitude that you would not allow from your young children.

You can not act like they are your young children. You can not punish them for not giving you the respect you believe you deserve (or, for that matter, for not giving you the respect you definitely deserve.) A lack of respect, a bad attitude, a dirty look, bitching, moaning, complaining, et al, can never be a reason to escalate a situation that would never have otherwise been escalated. The law enforcement officer is the one who is required to be the bigger person.

The Great Irony

As mentioned earlier, the cop was letting her off with a warning. Perhaps he was being nice, but perhaps he was fulfilling some sort of quota for giving out written warnings. (After all, the video begins with the closing schpiel of the previous stop where he lets the other driver off with a written warning.2) I guess they included that, thinking it casts him in a good light, but as far as I'm concerned it shows a creepy nature, as he tries chatting it up with a young college coed, asking her about her classes. It gives me the shivers, frankly.

The cop might have thought that since he was letting her off with a warning, it was the least she could do to put her cigarette out, but it would be silly to expect her to be a psychic mind reader. If that was what the cop was thinking, he could have done what I might have done, by saying, “I'll make you a deal. If you put your cigarette out for me, I'll let you off with a written warning.”

That, however, is not part of the psychology of most cops. Most cops need to have the upper hand. It's one big power play being a cop and dealing with the public. Who do you think want to be cops in the first place? So, saying that you will give your detainee a warning if she will put her cigarette out for you, deflates your cop sense of ego. You don't make win/win deals with the public. You give orders and get what you want.

If you don't immediately get what you want, you arrest the person, doing whatever you think is needed, including tazing, manhandling, sometimes even tazing and/or manhandling after you have your arrestee in handcuffs. If you do assault your arrestee, you always, ALWAYS tack on a charge of assaulting a police officer, to cover your ass.

So yes, Sandra Bland would still be alive if she had not insisted on her right to smoke in her own car. More importantly though, she would still be alive if that little man, the typical mental midget law enforcement officer in Texas with the typical huge cop ego had simply allowed her to exercise her right to smoke in her own car.

The Greater Irony

There are people (cops and their ass kissing apologists) commenting online that the problem was simply a matter that Bland does not have respect for the law. They start by citing the fact that she changed lanes without signaling. as if they haven't done the same thing themselves, many times over, and as if the cop is not guilty of the same infraction himself.

Then they proclaim she showed a lack of respect for the law by refusing the request of the lawman to extinguish her cigarette. The truth, of course, is that he showed a lack of respect for the citizen by expecting her to comply if she did not wish to, even though she was in her own car, and he wasn't even in there with her, by standing outside, in the open air.

They also say that she was disrespectful by moaning and complaining to him about being stopped, when the reality is the cop was having fun at her expense, provoking her to talk, with comments like, “Are you alright?,” and, “You seem upset.”

It was at that point that she said that the entire reason she made the sudden lane change was he was approaching behind her, and she assumed she was in his way. In other words, he specifically made the hasty move because she respected the police and wanted to ensure that she did not hinder the officer, however slightly, however briefly, from doing his duty.

If she didn't like cops to the point of preferring to be a pain in their collective butt, she would not have care about trying to make way for him. In fact, she would have slowed down to go out of her way to be a hindrance.

Cops Love To Make People Nervous

If you could give a serum to cops to make them tell the truth, you would be hard pressed to find any who would not laughingly tell you stories how they have purposely enjoyed making people nervous. Being a cop is a powerful position to be in. Part of the power is found in making people nervous.

Part of this is probably human nature. Give anybody the kind of power cops have and we shouldn't be surprised if they grow to enjoy being able to make others uncomfortable. That is something any good cop should be on the lookout for in herself and work on keeping in check. Keep in mind, though, that the type of people who want to be cops in the first place are usually the type of people who get off on having that kind of power over people.

Virtually any cop, if they were honest, would tell you stories about how they at least at one time or another have passed time by tailing people for whom they had no reason, just to get off on their reaction. In fact, many cops tail people for the express purpose of provoking them into making a nervous driving mistake, so they can pull them over.

I had a cop tailgate me so severely, I sped up to get some space. In so doing, I exceeded the speed limit, which I had not been doing before, and which I only did because he was tailgating me. Of course, he pulled me over and gave me a speeding ticket.

I told him I thought he wanted me to go fast because he was tailgating me. I said that I obviously could see he was driving a police cruiser and that I had been going the speed limit, but when he kept tailgating me, I figured he simply wanted to go faster. 3) He denied he was tailgating. I told him I'd be fighting this ticket. I guess he checked the dash cam video which proved he was following too closely, because he didn't show for the arraignment hearing where I was planning on motioning to take the charge to trial, so I beat it right then & there.

Did The Cop Profile Her?

I know it's silly to constantly assume a person is profiled every time they deal with cops. Everybody thinks they are profiled. I remember at the age of 19, working at a fast food restaurant, when I informed an elderly woman that the door was locked because we had closed. She was sure I was only treating her that way because she was elderly.

Still, the video shows the cop making a U turn and driving as if to catch up to her. Perhaps he profiled her not for being black, but for being a rather attractive woman. The previous car he pulled over was driven by a woman. Some cops use their power to pull people over as a way to meet women.

I don't know, but it just seems suspicious to me that he made the immediate U turn and got drove to get close behind her. Was he on some kind of a quota quest? Was he trying to make her nervous and get her to make a mistake? I wouldn't be surprised. What I can tell you is that contrary to the claims cops & their minions are making on YouTube, she actually had so much respect for this cop, that she caused herself to be pulled over, in an effort to help him go about his job, unimpeded by her.

Is There Anything To Be Said To His Credit?

The only thing I can find to say to the cop's credit is in the form of, at least he wasn't as bad as a lot of other cops. This cop only pointed his taser when she refused to get out of her car. Many other cops would have tazed her, without giving her a chance to get out without being tazed.

You may say that's a small consolation, but I've seen enough videos of people being tazed, and have heard the blood curdling screams enough to know that it's a form of torture that I'm glad that Bland did not have to endure. I have no doubt that if she continued to resist leaving the car, she would have been tazed, but I still appreciate the fact that he gave her at least a few seconds to help her avoid it.

Perhaps He Had Empathy

Most police training includes being tazed, which I feel is insane. The idea is to make sure the officers know how painful it is, ostensibly so they won't use it unnecessarily, but by the same logic, why don't all cops in training get shot or clubbed?

Plus, I might add that the training doesn't seem to be working because I'm always seeing videos of cops tazing people unnecessarily. I even wonder if the policy increases the amount of unneeded tazing that is going on.

Perhaps though, this cop had empathy, and perhaps it's a result of having been tazed himself. I can't say for certain on either count, but I hold those open as possibilities. On the other hand, it might have been a matter of fearing disciplinary action for tazing too early, and not giving her a chance to respond to the threat of being tazed. Whatever it was, I'm thankful he didn't taze her.

The Opposite Of Empathy

Of course, he demonstrated the opposite of empathy when she complained that her head hit the ground when he took her down during the arrest. She said it was especially bad becaue she suffered from epilepsy. His response upon hearing the news? “Good.”

Bail Money Would Also Have Kept Her Alive

Since this isn't a case of a cop killing somebody on the street, Bland would also be alive today if she had money to post bond. It was set at $5000, most likely because one of the charges was assault upon a police officer. If the cop had simply charged her with failure to obey an order, the bail may have been a lot lower.

It's true the bondsmen will put up 90% if you supply 10%, so she only needed $500, but she didn't have that. Evidently the only person she could get it from was not answering his phone, so 3 days later, she was still in jail.

So, there is something to be said for making choices that allow you to have a savings account for such emergencies. You can say that I'm blaming the victim, but really, I'm just trying to be practical, and I'm actually reminding myself of a lesson I need to learn.

I imagine that if Bland had quit smoking years ago, at the time she first had regrets that she had gotten hooked on nicotine, if she would have put the money she spent on cigarettes into a savings account, she could have posted the entire $5000 herself, and not even have needed a bail bondsman. (The irony, of course, would be that she wouldn't have been arrested if she had quit smoking.)

Did She Commit Suicide?

Bland's family is not buying the claim that she committed suicide. They say she had recently been informed that she got a job at her alma mater and was very excited about it. However her YouTube account had videos posted months ago talking about how she has suffered from depression, and a fellow inmate who spoke to her in jail, whose cell was next to hers, said she was getting despondent over not being bailed out. She had been heard crying.

The inmate doubts she was murdered. She said the guards were pretty good, overall. Being next door, one would imagine she would have heard if there had been a struggle. Judging from her boisterous nature on the arrest video, I can imagine she of made some kind of commotion if someone were strangling her.

Solitary Confinement

The inmate mentioned above said she didn't understand why she was alone in her cell. The inmate shared her cell with 2 roommates, but Bland was evidently alone the entire 3 days. Human rights groups define solitary confinement as a very real form of torture, so I do wonder about that decision.

It probably had a lot to do with a level of depression that led to suicide, if that is indeed what happened. Whatever the cause of her death, this did not have to happen. I hold the cop responsible for causing this based entirely on his childish desire to force her to put out her cigarette, when he was seconds away from concluding the traffic stop.

I hope he will, at some level of his psyche, accept accountability for what he did. I would love to see him lose his job, but I am not expecting it.

Law Enforcement | Issues | Law | Crime

1) If I can find the video I recently saw, I will post it here. A Chicago cop was giving a man his ID back, and he didn't like the fact that the man snatched it out his hand. The man did not hit the cop's hand or anything. He snatched it quickly. The cop, who was huge, choked the man, who was tiny, and then put cuffs on him and arrested him, for the crime of, “being stupid.”
2) There are all kinds of requirements that cops have to fulfill. I remember getting a ticket for going 9 miles over the speed limit when I was going 15 miles over the limit, because the cop needed to give more tickets out to people going less than 10 miles over.
3) I mean, lots of times I have had cops pass me up, which would make me check my speed and realize I was speeding, but they didn't care. They just wanted to speed more than I was and they weren't on an emergency call. That's what I thought was happening in that instance, but since I was in the left lane, he didn't want to pass me on the right. I assumed he wasn't in a ticket writing mode. Little did I dream he was trying to provoke me into speeding.

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