Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Trooper Who Arrested Sandra Bland Is Fired: Why Now?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Trooper Who Arrested Sandra Bland Is Fired: Why Now?

Article excerpt

Seven months after Sandra Bland was found hanging in a Texas jail, the public safety officer who arrested her during a confrontation after she failed to use her turn signal when changing lanes has been formally fired.

The Texas Department of Public Safety announced Wednesday that Brian Encinia would be terminated by the end of the day. The firing process began when Mr. Encinia was indicted in January. Until now, he was on paid desk duty and remained on payroll since Ms. Bland's arrest last summer.

"I have determined that you have not rebutted the charges set out in the statement of charges of January 28, 2016," the agency director Steve McCraw wrote in his letter of termination. "No cause has been presented to alter my preliminary decision. Therefore, it is now my decision that you be discharged from the Texas Department of Public Safety effective at 5:00 p.m."

On Jan. 6, a grand jury in Hempstead, Texas, indicted Encinia on a perjury charge. But it wasn't the first time a jury convened to consider wrongdoing in Ms. Bland's case. In December, grand jurors declined to indict anyone pertaining to her death in jail.

The former trooper was charged for lying about the reasons for demanding Bland to leave her car, according to special prosecutor Shawn McDonald. He lied that he removed Bland from her car to do a safer traffic investigation.

Bland was pulled over in July on the outskirts of Houston for failing to use her turn signal, according to Encinia's report. The trooper arrested her for assaulting a public servant, though dashboard camera footage released after her death suggested that Encinia played a larger role in escalating the altercation than his reported indicated. Bland was found dead in her cell, three days later. Although her death has been ruled a suicide, her family argues that if she hadn't been arrested, she would have never killed herself.

If convicted, Encinia's penalty for perjury, a misdemeanor, would be up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of $4,000. The grand jury had met three times prior to the indictment, including once in December that resulted in the lack of indictment for anyone in connection to Bland's death, including Waller County Jail employees. …

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