Texas state Trooper Brian Encinia stopped Sandra Bland for a traffic violation on July 10, then arrested her on a charge of assaulting a public servant.
After Bland was found dead in her cell three days later, Encinia’s stop sparked a new wave of protests and claims of racial profiling. But a recently released "racial breakdown" of the officer's previous stops show he had displayed no apparent pattern of racial profiling in the past.
The records, obtained by the Los Angeles Times, show that Encinia has stopped 1,537 drivers since August 2014, pulling over approximately the same amount of black drivers as white drivers, at 34 percent each. Approximately 21 percent of drivers he stopped were Latino, 8 percent were of an unknown race, 2 percent were Asian and one person was Native American.
The records also show that Encinia stopped 501 women — 187 black women, 178 white women, 88 Latinas, 44 women of unknown race, three Asian women and one Native American.
Encinia stopped 1,036 men — 350 white men and 336 black men. Twenty-three percent of the men he stopped were Latino, 3 percent were Asian and 8 percent were of an unknown race.
Phillip Atiba Goff, the president of the Center for Police Equity, told the Los Angeles Times that he was surprised by the amount of white people Encinia stopped, considering the area he patrols includes Prairie View A&M University, a historically black college. The school is in a town with a population that is 89 percent black.
However, Goff, an associate professor of psychology at UCLA who is also a visiting scholar at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, said there isn't enough context provided to be able to seriously draw conclusions from the arrest records.
"We don't know if the driver population mirrors the surrounding community — they can be wildly different," Goff said. "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."
Since August 2014, Encinia has stopped 25 drivers for the same reason he initially stopped Bland: failing to signal a lane change. Of those people, 14 were white and six were black.
On the same day he encountered Bland, Encinia stopped two white men and three black women on the same road, according to the Los Angeles Times. The men were stopped for failing to display a driver's license and driving without license plates. The other women were stopped for speeding, an expired driver's license and a broken light.
Encinia was placed on administrative leave two days after stopping Bland. Her family has contended that details surrounding her arrest and death — officials say she hanged herself with a trash bag — don't add up, and have commissioned an independent autopsy. They also have filed a wrongful death suit in a Houston federal court against Encinia, jailers, the sheriff, Waller County and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Bland's older sister, Sharon Cooper, told the Los Angeles Times that she believes Encinia targeted Bland.