U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Sunday said the death of Sandra Bland, who officials say committed suicide in her Texas jail cell after she was detained following a routine traffic stop, shows the importance of training police officers to de-escalate high-pressure situations.
Waller County sheriff officials say they found Bland hanging in her jail cell three days after a heated confrontation with a state trooper led to her arrest. Dashcam video released last week showed that, after she was pulled over for failing to signal a lane change, a curt exchange of words between Bland and the officer quickly developed into an aggressive row that eventually landed the 28-year-old, African-American woman in jail.
Speaking with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell in Aspen, Colorado, on Sunday, Lynch said there are "a number of lessons" to be learned from Bland's death.
"Many people see this situation escalating, and I think it shows the frustration that many minority communities feel when they feel that, you know, maybe it wouldn’t have escalated in a different community," Lynch said.
The attorney general said the Bland incident showed the importance of training police in de-escalation tactics "to sort of get away from the classic 'Let’s just stop and arrest, or chase and arrest, and figure out how can we calm a situation down.'"
An attorney representing the Bland family said Wednesday that the arresting officer was “overzealous” and “overstepped his authority."
But Lynch said the case "also highlights the need for discussion on the issue of how people interact with the police."
An autopsy report released Thursday found no signs of homicide in her death, however her supporters claim Bland, who was set to begin a new job, had to reason to take her own life.
The transcript of Mitchell's interview with Lynch was made public on on Sunday -- a day before the interview is due to air on MSNBC.
David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.
Contact David Mack at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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