Records released to the LA Times by the Texas Department of Public Safety show that the trooper who stopped Sandra Bland did not disproportionately stop minority drivers.
About seven months after he was hired by the Texas Department of Public Safety 30-year-old Trooper Brian Encinia started making traffic stops. Since August 2014, he’s stopped more than 1,500 drivers, according to the records.
The Texas state trooper made national headlines for his controversial arrest of Bland last month. Three days after her arrest in Prairie View, Texas, Bland was found dead in her cell at the Waller County Jail, of an apparent suicide.
According to the records obtained by the LA Times, Encinia appears to have stopped about the same percentage of African American and white drivers: 34%. About 21% of those he stopped were Latino, 8% were of unknown race, 2% were Asian and one person was Native American.
Encinia stopped 501 women– 37% of which were African American. 36% of the women stopped were white , and 18% were Latinas. The trooper stopped more than twice as many male drivers as female. Of the more than 1,000 males he stopped, 34% were white and 32 % African American.
Phillip Atiba Goff, who researches racial profiling, said he was struck by how many white drivers Encinia stopped, given the area he worked in. Nearby Prairie View A&M University is an historically black school, and the city is 89% African American.
Goff said it’s difficult to draw conclusions from Encinia’s traffic stops alone, however.
“We don’t know if the driver population mirrors the surrounding community — they can be wildly different,” he told the LA Times. “We don’t know what other officers are doing, we don’t know what an appropriate base rate is and we don’t have any national benchmarks for measuring bias and discrimination in police behavior as opposed to disproportionality.”
Bland’s older sister, Sharon Cooper, told The Times last week that her family has not heard from Encinia, and she wonders what he was thinking when he stopped Bland.“I do feel that he targeted her,” Cooper said.
Bland’s family has questioned the medical examiner’s findings and has commissioned an independent autopsy. They have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Encinia, the sheriff, jailers, Waller County and the Texas Department of Public Safety.