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Texas sheriff involved in the death of Sandra Bland fired from previous post for racism

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By Shaun King

Sandra Bland died in police custody this past Monday. Visiting Texas from Chicago to interview for a college job at her alma mater of Prairie View A&M, she was pulled over for a routine traffic violation (failure to use her turn signal). Everything from that point forward screams racism and foul play, including her death in the Waller County jail Monday.

The first red flag is that Bland was officially arrested on Friday for assaulting a police officer. What we see from a bystander video is her telling the officers she is in pain and cannot hear after her head was slammed on the ground by the male arresting officer. The video is below.

We have now learned that Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith, who made the first public comments about Bland's in-custody death, was suspended for documented cases of racism when he was chief of police in Hempstead, Texas, in 2007. After serving his suspension, more complaints of racism came in, and Smith was actually fired as chief of police in Hempstead:

"Council members are reviewing video of four arrests and detentions over the past month. The officers and police chief, who are the targets of the complaints, are white. Some residents are calling for a third of the city's 15 person police force to be suspended, disciplined, or fired.

"Allegations of racism have led to the Hempstead police chief being suspended and ordered to take anger management classes.

"The Hempstead city council has been reviewing the case since last week and finally came to a decision at around 2am Tuesday. A number of residents have come forward with claims of racism by at least four white police officers.

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"The council reviewed the complaints, along with videotapes before making their decision to punish Chief Glen Smith. Some say it wasn't enough. The chief says he respects the decision.

"'My action during the arrest did not meet professionalism as it should with language and I'm not above policy and procedure, no more than any officer of this city,' said Chief Smith."

It would seem that once a law enforcement officer -- a chief of police no less -- is suspended and then fired for racism and abuse, his ability to serve in law enforcement would cease.

That'd be too much like right, though.

Hell, it made Glenn Smith popular in Waller County, where he then ran for the elected position of sheriff and won against -- you guessed it -- an African-American candidate, Jeron Barnett, who would've been the first black sheriff ever in Waller County.

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Police are claiming that Bland killed herself in her cell, but all of her friends and family have serious reservations about that version of events:

"Longtime friend LaNitra Dean tells the I-Team that Bland 'was a warm, affectionate, outspoken woman' who spoke out about police brutality often on her Facebook page and was critical of injustice against African Americans.

"'Each one of us feels like we lost a part of ourselves and it's hard, it's going to be hard for a very long time,' said her sister Sharon Cooper.

"'The Waller County Jail is trying to rule her death a suicide and Sandy would not have taken her own life,' Dean said. 'Sandy was strong. Strong mentally and spiritually.'"


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