The Texas state trooper who pulled over Sandra Bland, whose death in jail last summer fueled criticism of police and their treatment of minorities, has been fired.
Trooper Brian Encinia, 30, was formally fired Wednesday by Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw, who said the officer’s actions during the traffic stop with Bland violated department standards. McCraw met with Encinia on Feb. 5 and oversaw months of investigation.
Encinia stopped Bland, 28, near the Prairie View A&M University campus on July 10 for failing to properly signal a lane change. After a heated argument, the trooper arrested Bland for assaulting a public servant. Bland was found hanged in her Waller County jail cell three days later. Her death has been ruled a suicide.
In an initial statement of charges, McCraw told Encinia several reasons for his firing, including that “you failed to remain courteous and tactful in the performance of your duties” and that “you failed to follow the seven-step violator interview,” which includes greeting the person stopped, stating the violation and “explaining what the violator must do.
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A Waller County grand jury indicted Encinia in January after concluding there was evidence he lied about the circumstances under which Bland left her car. If convicted of the misdemeanor perjury charge, Encinia could face up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
Encinia’s attorney told the Texas Tribune that his client would appeal the public safety director’s decision.
Bland’s relatives have demanded investigative records in the case as part of the wrongful death lawsuit they filed against the Waller County Sheriff’s Office, jail officials and the Texas Department of Public Safety. That case is set for trial next January.