SMITH COUNTY, Texas — After over four hours of deliberations, a jury found suspended Smith County Constable Curtis Traylor-Harris guilty Thursday of stealing several items from a Tyler home while serving an eviction notice.
Traylor-Harris was arrested in November 2021 on official oppression and property theft by a public servant charges for theft accusations while issuing an eviction notice along with Pct. 1 Sgt. Derrick Holman and former Pct. 1 Chief Deputy LaQuenda Banks.
At the start of the trial, Traylor-Harris pleaded not guilty to the charge of property theft by a public servant in the 241st District Court Tuesday morning. The oppression charge has not been tried at this time.
The sentencing phase will begin Friday morning.
According to arrest documents, Banks' body camera footage, which was turned on accidentally, shows Traylor-Harris, Holman and Banks stealing objects from a Tyler residence in late January last year during the eviction.
The stolen items included watches, ammunition, cash, Oakley sunglasses, Ray-Ban sunglasses, makeup and a safe containing antique coins, quarter collection, military medals, a diploma, a birth certificate and a social security card, the affidavit read.
Banks testified on Tuesday that she felt forced by Traylor-Harris to take the items in the house. She also said that what she did while serving that eviction last year was wrong.
Traylor-Harris, who took the stand Thursday morning, testified that he told Banks to “get that [stuff]”— to put a box of items back on a shelf — not “take that [stuff].”
He also testified that he did not know Banks took any items from the home and never pressured her to take anything.
Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman questioned Traylor-Harris about a safe that was taken and put into a deputy’s vehicle that never made it into the evidence room, for which he was the one with the only key.
Traylor-Harris said he didn’t know the safe was taken from the home and he didn’t know to pay attention to it.
He agreed with the DA’s statement that the body camera footage from Banks shows her stealing watches from the home by putting them in her shirt.
Traylor-Harris said if he had known she was stealing, he would have immediately sent her home, reviewed the body camera footage and fired her.
Putman showed video of Traylor-Harris close to Banks while she appeared to steal Ray-Bans and questioned him about how he could not know what she was doing. He said he was looking to make sure her camera was working and didn’t see the theft.
Traylor-Harris said he believes that this case against him is part of a larger trend of county leaders, including the DA, who never wanted him to be in office.
He said there’s no evidence of him taking any items or plotting with anyone else to take things.
Traylor-Harris was temporarily suspended from the constable position this July after a citizen filed a lawsuit seeking to remove him.
In closing arguments, the prosecution said that Traylor-Harris is guilty of theft, even if he didn’t take things himself, though they argue he did, because he was responsible for his deputies while they stole.
The defense said that Traylor-Harris may have been in over his head in his role as constable, but he did not cross the line and commit a crime. They thought that the jury should be trying Banks, but it can’t convict her by convicting Traylor-Harris.
In his rebuttal, Putman said the constable and the deputies were at the home for many hours and questioned why they only have eight minutes of video from Holman and one hour from Banks.
Banks and Holman are still awaiting trial on charges of theft and official oppression.