On July 10, 2015, Sandra Bland, a politically engaged and vibrant 28-year-old African American from Chicago, was arrested for a traffic violation in a small Texas town. After three days in custody, she was found hanging from a noose in her jail cell. Bland’s death was quickly ruled a suicide, sparking allegations of a racially motivated police murder and cover-up, and turning her case and name into a rallying cry nationwide. From the Oscar®-nominated, Emmy®– and Peabody Award-winning team of directors/producers Kate Davis and David Heilbroner (HBO’s TRAFFIC STOP, SOUTHERN COMFORT, THE CHESHIRE MURDERS and JOCKEY), SAY HER NAME: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF SANDRA BLAND explores this story in depth, revealing previously unknown details when it debuts February 25 at 9PM AST* on HBO and HBO GO.
While the Texas authorities ruled Bland¹s death a suicide, providing photos of a noose made out of a garbage-can liner as evidence of the cause of death, questions were raised about why she was held alone in a cell without surveillance cameras, whether cell checks by law enforcement had been fabricated and why Bland¹s body had been severely bruised. Attorneys in the film examine the disturbing police dashcam video of Trooper Brian Encina’s aggressive treatment of Bland after pulling her over for failing to use a turn signal. Fearing that she had been murdered, her mother and sisters filed a suit against local law enforcement and the Waller County jail as protests amplified across the country.
Following a contentious legal battle, the family settled with authorities, giving rise to the Sandra Bland Act, which is now law in Texas. The Act mandates a host of prison reforms aimed at preventing inmate suicide, and a street in Hempstead, Texas has been named in Sandra Bland’s honor.
SAY HER NAME: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF SANDRA BLAND was directed by Kate Davis; produced by David Heilbroner and Nancy Knox Talcott; edited by Kate Davis; directors of photography, Kate Davis and Tom Bergmann; music by Joel Harrison. For HBO: executive producer, Lisa Heller.