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Black woman who died in jail should not have been in custody

texasdeathSAN ANTONIO--A Texas lawmaker who met with the family of a black woman found dead in her jail cell after her arrest following a routine traffic stop said on Tuesday she should never have been in police custody in the first place.

Democratic State Senator Royce West told a news conference there would be no cover-up in the investigation of the death of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old Chicago-area woman, three days after she was arrested in Prairie View, Texas, northwest of Houston.

Asked if he thought Bland should have been taken into custody following the traffic stop by a white state trooper, he said no. West spoke to reporters on the campus of Prairie View A&M University, where Bland had taken a new job. Others at the news conference included the district attorney involved in the case and the state's director of public safety.

The July 13 death of Bland, who was from Naperville, Illinois, was originally ruled a suicide after she was found hanging in her jail cell with a plastic trash bag around her neck. But her family expressed doubt she would have killed herself - she had just moved to Texas for a new job - and Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said on Monday he would investigate the incident as a homicide.

Later on Tuesday, the Texas Department of Public Safety released the dashboard camera video of the traffic stop. It showed the incident escalating from a warning to Bland for failure to signal a lane change to her being placed in handcuffs and a physical altercation that included the trooper pointing a Taser at her.

The two began arguing after the state trooper, identified as Brian Encinia, asked her to put out a cigarette and she refused. The 52-minute video was posted at http://youtu.be/yf8GR3OO9mU.

Demonstrators have protested outside the jail where Bland died and her case has been taken up by activists who say it is the latest example of racial bias and excessive force by U.S. law enforcement.

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