Marvin Scott III Died in a Texas Jail. His Family Is Still Waiting for the Officers to Be Charged

Illustration for article titled Marvin Scott III Died in a Texas Jail. His Family Is Still Waiting for the Officers to Be Charged
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In March, Marvin Scott III was arrested in Allen, Texas, for possessing less than two ounces of marijuana—a misdemeanor. Scott, 26, suffered from schizophrenia and sometimes used the drug to self-medicate, according to the family’s lawyer, S. Lee Merritt, the Texas Tribune reports.


Allen officers took him to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital for what they said was “strange behavior”and from there to the Collin County jail. As the story goes, Scott III had to be restrained at some point and officers used pepper spray and covered his head with a spit hood, which is used to keep a person from biting or spitting on an officer. He became unresponsive later that night and was pronounced dead at a hospital, according to the Texas Tribune.


Seven of the sheriff’s officers involved were fired after initially being put on administrative leave and another officer resigned during an investigation, but none have been charged with Scott III’s death. What’s more, the officers’ names have not been released to the public. The Collin County Sheriff’s Office, which operates the jail, said names can’t be released during pending civil service appeals.

Scott III’s family has been protesting outside the Collin County jail almost nightly demanding that the officers be charged. They hang signs on the chain link fence and draw words memorializing Scott III’s life. Their memorials are consistently removed, but that doesn’t stop his family from doing it over again.

“They want us to stop, to go away. We’re gonna remain until the officers are arrested,” LaChay Batts, Scott III’s sister said.

Here is more on what is happening with the investigation into Scott’s death, according to the Tribune:

The family hired a forensic pathologist to conduct a second, independent autopsy. During the March 23 press conference, the pathologist, Amy Gruszecki of American Forensics, said: “The physical struggle of the restraint as well as the possible asphyxia from the restraint would likely be causes of his death, and a negative autopsy, meaning no injuries, no blunt force trauma, is consistent with that.”

During the press conference, Merritt said the Collin County district attorney had explained that he would need a cause of death and a medical examiner’s report before he could decide whether to pursue criminal charges.

There has been an intense focus on police brutality during the murder and manslaughter trial for Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, accused of killing George Floyd in late May by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes — which sparked protests around the nation. And on Sunday, police deployed tear gas against protesters who marched after an officer fatally shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in Minnesota.

Scott’s family said they did not receive any communication about his arrest and death until the next afternoon, when they received a text message from the medical examiner’s office. Batts said the family has not yet seen the jail video related to his death. The footage has been provided to the Texas Rangers, said a representative from the Collin County Sheriff’s Office.


Scott III’s case is similar to that of Daniel Prude and Sandra Bland, who was found dead in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas in July of 2015. She was arrested after an aggressive cop pulled her over for a traffic violation. That simple traffic stop resulted in her death. Bland’s family reached a $1.9 million settlement in a wrongful-death lawsuit.

Daniel Prude died after Rochester, N.Y., put him a spit hood while detaining him after his brother called in police to help Prude during a mental health crisis. Police were captured on bodycam footage mocking him and failing to administer aid quickly enough.


Meanwhile, the family of Marvin Scott III will continue their protest until the officers involved in his death are charged and face justice.

Terrell Jermaine Starr is a senior reporter at The Root. He is currently writing a book proposal that analyzes US-Russia relations from a black perspective.



I wish some knowledgeable person would just come out and tell the world that pepper spray, combined with a spithood causes asphyxiation. Just tell the real! That your nose running from the pepper spray also somehow restricts the amount of oxygen you can get or the next phase after runny nose is blocked sinuses and a restricted throat. That a spithood’s fabric is so tightly-knit that it minimizes oxygen that can get through it.

And that police KNOW these specifications and use them to kill people while enjoying plausible deniability.