Personnel files of the Texas officer who arrested 28-year-old Sandra Bland on July 10 were made public this week, spurring a host of new questions in regards to the initial treatment of Bland, who was found dead of an apparent suicide in her cell at Waller County Jail three days later. Trooper Brian Encinia's law enforcement records, which were disclosed to Bustle and a host of other media outlets on Friday, pointed to a relatively quiet tenure for the 30-year-old, who had only been in the field for a year. Encinia was placed on administrative duties on Friday July 17, in connection with an ongoing investigation into traffic stop procedures and courtesy policies by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).
For the most part, Encinia's short record was devoid of any serious protocol violations, with the exception of a single incident at a school in Austin, Texas during his probationary period (between Sept. 1 and Oct. 31, 2014), as Chicago ABC affiliate WLS pointed out on Friday. Official records denoted that Encinia had exhibited "unprofessional conduct," and it was recommended that he receive periodic supervision and "written counseling." Neither the nature of the incident nor Encinia's actions were specified in his official personnel file.
In December 2014, an evaluation by the DPS showed Encinia to be "competent" in his skills as a Trooper, specifically noting that he "exhibit[ed] courage and appear[ed] to operate effectively under stress." Further, the reviewer wrote, Encinia continued to showcase "good problem solving skills and judgment while working patrol."
Under a section titled "Ethics and Integrity," the reviewer commented that Encinia "conduct[ed] his business in a professional manner." A later segment, titled "Stress Tolerance" reinforced earlier comments about Encinia's capabilities under strained circumstances, with the reviewer adding, “Trooper Encinia responds effectively and rationally to stress."
Under a segment titled "Diversity and Inclusion," Encinia was praised for "maintain[ing] objectivity when making decisions." The reviewer noted that he had also behaved "rationally" during a pursuit involving firearm-discharge.
The comments seemed to contradict bystander and dashcam video footage taken during Bland's arrest in July, during which Encinia could be seen growing increasingly frustrated with Bland's refusal to put out a cigarette during the course of a routine traffic stop. After several requests, Encinia then ordered Bland out of the car, threatening her with a stun-gun, after which he proceeded to reach inside the vehicle and drag her out to the sidewalk where he pinned her to the ground and placed her under arrest.
The incident, and Encinia's ensuing reaction, were later questioned by DPS officials, who suggested he be suspended pending an investigatory outcome.