An African-American inmate was recently found dead after apparently hanging himself in the same Texas jail where Sandra Bland also died in 2015, the Houston Chronicle reported. Authorities at the Waller County jail said on Wednesday that Evan Lyndell Parker, 34, attempted suicide on Jan. 25 and died two days later in a hospital.
Parker was accused of killing a 64-year-old co-worker on Jan. 9, according to the Waller County Sheriff’s Office. He was booked into the jail the next day on charges of murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The Waller County District Attorney stated that it was unclear what led to Parker to attempt to kill himself.
“All outside agency investigations that include the Texas Rangers and Texas Commission on Jail Standards are pending along with autopsy results,” Sheriff R. Glenn Smith said in a statement posted on Facebook.
Bland’s death prompted police reforms that could have prevented Parker’s death. For one thing, face-to-face cell inspections were supposed to occur more frequently after she died. The Chronicle noted that Parker died a month after inspectors found that the jailers failed to meet standards for observing prisoners.
Bland was found hanging in her cell on July 13, 2015, three days after being arrested during a traffic stop. Although her death was ruled a suicide, her family members and activists disputed the cause of death and said racial violence was involved. Her family settled a wrongful death lawsuit for $1.9 million with Waller County officials and the state trooper who arrested Bland near Prairie View A & M University.
It was unclear if foul play was somehow involved in Parker’s death.
“All I can say is, it’s extremely unfortunate when it happens,” Waller County Judge Trey Duhon said. “Even with the best of precautions, it is always possible that somebody intent on taking their life could be successful. All we can do is make sure we meet guidelines and do the routine checks. At this point, it looks like that was done.”
Duhon also rejected criticism from inmate advocates who raised questions about standards at the jail.
“They’re certainly entitled to their opinions, but anybody who wants to come down to our jail and see all the changes and processes we’ve made since 2015 is welcome to do that,” Duhon added.