Police cutting down our best and brightest
By Frederick H. Lowe
My heart is broken because Sandra Bland died alone in a Texas jail cell after being arrested for failing to signal a lane change. It wasn’t a major crime, but the police made it into one with a death sentence.
Bland, 28, who was from Naperville, Ill., a Chicago suburb, was in the Waller County Jail in Hempstead, Texas, for three days before she allegedly committed suicide — at least that’s what we are being told.
Waller County Sheriff R. Glenn Smith had been suspended and later fired from his job as Hempstead, Texas, police chief for making racist comments, according to several news reports.
Brand’s relatives have called for an independent autopsy for their own satisfaction to determine the cause of her death because the family like a growing number of others no longer believes the police are capable of telling the truth.
The case is now being treated as a homicide and it will go before a grand jury, which gives me even less faith in the justice system when it comes to blacks and the police.
Her death by suicide makes no sense. She drove from Naperville to take a summer job Prairie View A&M University, a university spokesperson told NorthStar News Today. She was scheduled to start August 3, the spokesperson added. Bland graduated from Prairie View in 2009 with a degree from Prairie View A&M’s College of Agriculture.
My sadness about Bland is compounded by my sadness and anger about Jonathan Ferrell, who was shot to death in September 2013 by Randall Kerrick, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer. Ferrell, 24, was seeking help following a car accident. He knocked on a woman’s door to get help he badly needed.
Instead, she called the police. Believing he was a burglar. Officer Kerrick showed up and shot the unarmed Ferrell 10 times, killing him instantly. Kerrick fired a total of 12 shots.
Kerrick is charged with voluntary manslaughter. His trial began Monday in Charlotte, N.C. Ferrell, who attended Florida A&M University, will be painted by Kerrick’s lawyers as a thug, Ferrell’s attorney said at a news conference.
Ferrell’s mother said something strange. She said she would hug Kerrick and forgive him, but he must be punished.
She said this about a man who didn’t give her son one moment’s benefit of doubt.
Bland and Ferrell both were either killed by police or in police custody for such minor incidents. We shouldn’t tolerate this any longer.