A Texas Department of Public Safety official says that the state trooper who arrested Sandra Bland violated officer protocol and unnecessarily escalated the roadside arrest.
In an interview with the Texas Tribune, DPS director Steve McCraw said that the department holds all officers responsible for escalating any interaction.
“We require professional courtesy and display at all times, and clearly, [the officer] did not do it in that situation,” McCraw said.
Officer Brian Encinia pulled Bland over on July 10 for failing to use her turn signal. According to police reports, Encinia ordered Bland out of the car after she reportedly refused to put out her cigarette. The situation escalated, ultimately resulting in Encinia reportedly slamming Bland to the ground, arresting her and charging her with assaulting a public servant. She was taken to the Waller County jail, and three days later, she was found hanging from a plastic bag in her cell. Her death was ruled a suicide.
McCraw condemned Encinia’s actions, saying that escalations are “always on the trooper.”
“We’re accountable for every stop,” he said. “And the citizen has a right to be objectionable. They can be rude. They can do a lot of things. They can say things, they can do things, and at the end of the day, we have an obligation not to react and be pulled into that. We’ve got to be professional, above that.”
Earlier this month, a grand jury found Encinia guilty of perjury for fabricating his account of the arrest. He faces a $4,000 fine and could spend up to a year in jail if convicted. DPS officials have said that they’ve submitted paperwork to fire him from duty.