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Smith County constable, deputies indicted in connection with theft allegations

All three had their peace officer licenses suspended on Dec. 3, 2021, a Texas Commission on Law Enforcement spokesperson said at the time.
Credit: Smith County Jail

TYLER, Texas — Smith County Pct. 1 Constable Curtis Traylor-Harris and two constable deputies have been indicted for accusations of stealing cash, ammunition and other items while serving an eviction notice. 

Traylor-Harris, former Pct. 1 Chief Deputy LaQuenda Banks and Pct. 1 Sgt. Derrick Holman were arrested in November on charges of abuse of official capacity, official oppression and property theft. All three bonded out of jail soon after their arrests.

Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman confirmed on Friday afternoon Traylor-Harris, Banks and Holman were indicted on charges of theft by public servant and official oppression Thursday.

Theft by a public servant is a third-degree felony, which can result in two to 10 years in prison and a fine of no more than $10,000 if a person is found guilty. 

As a Class A misdemeanor, a person could face a fine of no more than $4,000 and/or up to one year in a county jail if found guilty of official oppression, according to the Texas Penal Code. 

All three had their peace officer licenses suspended on Dec. 3, 2021, a Texas Commission on Law Enforcement spokesperson said at the time. 

Because of the suspension, Banks and Holman cannot work or have authority as peace officers. Following the license suspension, the Smith County Commissioners Court reclassified Holman's position. 

TCOLE said the suspension did not remove Traylor-Harris from office, and he can still exercise the authority he has as an elected constable. A removal proceeding would have to occur at the county level.

Also on Dec. 3 last year, Traylor-Harris terminated Banks from her position as chief deputy at the constable’s office.  A letter to Banks from Traylor-Harris claims Banks admitted to the theft allegations.

An arrest affidavit obtained in November details body camera footage of Traylor-Harris, Banks and Holman rummaging through a Tyler residence in late January last year while the occupant, who was receiving an eviction notice, was away.

The resident in February 2021 reported several items missing, including four watches, a partial box of .22 caliber ammunition, a box that could contain Apple AirPods, Oakley sunglasses, Ray-Ban sunglasses, makeup and a safe containing antique coins, a quarter collection, military medals, a diploma, a birth certificate and a social security card. More than $750 in cash was also reported missing, the affidavit stated.

Texas Ranger Chris Baggett wrote in the affidavit that a member of the Smith County District Attorney’s Office in October gave him a USB drive containing Banks’ body camera video from the home.

While serving the eviction notice, Traylor-Harris and the constable employees found drugs, drug paraphernalia, firearms and cash. Tyler police were called by the constable’s office members, and the police officers later took over the drug-related investigation and arrested the tenant.

In Banks’ body camera video, the recording begins in a bedroom or bathroom area with Banks telling Traylor-Harris in a hushed tone, “I cut it off,” followed by the tone of a body camera turned on, according to the affidavit. Banks was heard saying “hold on, don’t come down here” as Traylor-Harris is trying to hand her the watch display case.

Traylor-Harris carried the watch display case into a closet while continually attempting to hand it to Banks. She followed Traylor-Harris who is heard saying “take that (expletive)” referencing watches from a display case. She removed four watches from the case and placed them in her shirt, according to the affidavit.

The document details several instances of Traylor-Harris, Banks and Holman going through the drawers and other places in the residence.

RELATED: Smith County commissioners reclassify position of Pct. 1 deputy charged with theft

RELATED: UPDATE: Smith County Pct. 1 Constable, employees' law licenses suspended while investigation continues into theft of ammo, watches, other items

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