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DPS Trooper Warned in 2014 of "Unprofessional Conduct"

The Texas Department of Public Safety trooper who arrested Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old black woman who was found hanged three days later in the Waller County Jail, was warned about his "unprofessional conduct" in 2014 while he was still a probationary trooper, according to his personnel file.

A memorial for Sandra Bland at the site of her arrest.

The Texas Department of Public Safety trooper who arrested Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old black woman who was found hanged three days later in the Waller County Jail, was warned about his "unprofessional conduct"  in 2014 while he was still a probationary trooper, according to his personnel file.  

The agency released the personnel file late Friday for Trooper Brian Encinia, who stopped Bland for an improper lane change outside Prairie View A&M University on July 10. Three days later, she was found dead in the Waller County Jail. The Texas Rangers, a division of DPS, are leading an investigation, assisted by the FBI.

Encinia was disciplined nearly a year ago while he was still a probationary trooper, his evaluation noted: 

"Trooper Encinia was given a written counseling for unprofessional conduct during this reporting period for an incident occurring while at a school in Austin," an evaluation for his performance for September and October 2014, reads. "In the future, Trooper Encinia should conduct himself at all times in a matter that will reflect well upon himself, the Department and the state of Texas. This supervisor will ensure that this is done by meeting periodically with Trooper Encinia."

No other details about the disciplinary action were provided in the nearly 80 pages of Encinia's file that were released to The Texas Tribune and other media outlets. 

A dashboard camera recording of Bland's traffic stop on July 10 shows Encinia losing his temper after Bland refuses to put out a cigarette. He orders her to exit her vehicle and when she doesn't, threatens to use his Taser on her, yelling: "I will light you up."

Bland eventually exited the vehicle and was arrested after an exchange that was mostly out of view of the camera on Encinia's patrol car. According to the arrest affidavit Encinia filed, Bland was arrested for kicking him in the shin. 

According to his personnel file, Encinia applied to be a trooper in December 2013 and completed trooper recruit school on June 20, 2014. For the next year he was listed as a probationary trooper. He finished that probationary period on June 19, and was promoted to highway patrol trooper on June 20. Less than a month later, he arrested Bland. 

Encinia, a Texas A&M University graduate who had worked as a district fire chief for the city of Brenham and for Blue Bell Creameries as an ingredient processing supervisor, was praised in all of his other evaluations during his probationary year.

"Trooper Encinia exhibits courage and appears to operate effectively under stress," Encinia's evaluation in December stated. "Trooper Encinia responds effectively and rationally to stress." 

On Thursday, state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, chairman of the Texas House Committee on County Affairs asked DPS Director Steve McCraw specifically about trooper training. 

"What will you do to improve or do something about the training or what should we do?," Coleman asked. 

McCraw did not offer any answers about the training. 

"You raise a good point," he told Coleman. 

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