When LaChay Batts showed up to Big Ray’s BBQ in Allen, she could barely even explain who her brother, Marvin Scott III, was through tears rolled down her face. Every night at 9 p.m. since his death on March 14—allegedly at the hands of Collin County detention officers—she and others have sat outside the Collin County Jail, begging for the names and arrests of the officers involved in her brother’s death. The sheriff fired seven of them shortly after word spread about the incident. The eighth resigned.
The Collin County NAACP hosted this outdoor rally on a Sunday afternoon and called her to the storefront to say a few words about her brother Marvin. Her voice was hoarse from yelling his name night after night in front of the county jail. Their mother, LaSandra Scott, couldn’t even look at her daughter while she spoke. Instead, she stared at the sky as if she was fighting tears.
“He was so loving, nurturing,” LaChay said. Everyone, 150 people, wore red and black in honor of her brother’s favorite colors. “He seen the world in a different way. He didn’t see the bad in anybody at all. He thought everybody was good people. And clearly not, but he probably still seen the good in the officers that took his life. Marvin is truly missed. I miss him every day. To know him was to love him.”
At the rally, they asked the district attorney to arrest the detention officers involved in Marvin’s death, and called for state legislators and law enforcement agencies to address the role of officers in dealing with mental health issues. They also are petitioning the Allen police chief to implement a cite and release or stomp-out policy for those who have less than 4 ounces of marijuana. Finally, they marched from Big Ray’s to the Allen Police Department.
Marvin Scott III
Marvin was only 26 on March 14 when Allen police arrested him for smoking a joint in the parking lot of an outlet mall in Allen. He’d been mumbling to himself and caught the attention of security, who called the police. According to friends and family, he suffered from schizophrenia.
Allen police took him to a nearby hospital where a doctor cleared him to be taken to jail. He died later that evening under suspicious circumstances that allegedly involved asphyxiation, according to an independent third-party autopsy report. The family’s attorney, Lee Merritt, claimed Marvin had been restrained, doused with pepper spray and choked.
Several weeks have passed since Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner terminated those involved and announced the Texas Rangers’ investigation into Marvin’s death. But the names of those allegedly involved in Marvin’s death still have not been released despite the demands from the family and their supporters. It’s another reason why they gathered on this Sunday afternoon at Big Ray’s BBQ in Allen.
A few weeks after Marvin’s death, Plano Police Chief Ed Drain announced a special order for police to start ticketing people for low level marijuana possession — under 2 ounces — instead of taking them to the county jail, in part, because it disproportionately affects Black Americans like Marvin. The Allen Police Chief Brian Harvey offered his condolences to the family in a statement released on social media. He has yet to announce any policy changes or special orders. Those gathered at Big Ray’s want that to change.
“‘When I heard about yet another police killing of another Black man, like Botham Jean, Darius Tarver, George Floyd, my heart wept cause I felt their pain,’” Collin County NAACP member Bessie Wright said, reading a poem written from Marvin’s perspective for his family at the rally. “‘But never in a million years did I think I would be next. Collin County — are you at all ashamed?’”
Marvin’s mother and sister were not the only family members present to protest the death of their loved one at the hands of law enforcement. Kevin Tarver, a McKinney police chaplain and pastor, was there offering a voice for his son Darius, a 23-year-old University of North Texas student whom Denton police killed shortly after receiving a wellness check call.
Darius, who was studying in hopes of entering law enforcement, had been banging on doors and breaking light fixtures when police approached him at the apartment complex where he lived. He was carrying a meat clever and a frying pan, according to several reports. Police zapped him with a taser and then shot and killed him when he tried to get back up, according to the body-camera footage, which is still available online.
A few weeks have passed since a Denton County grand jury declined to indict the Denton police officer who shot Darius, but Kevin said at the rally that the story was much different than what has appeared online so far. He said his son had been acting erratically after he sustained a brain injury from a traffic accident just a week earlier. He said the officers who responded to the situation identified him as a Black man and a criminal, “not a person that needed help.”
Similar to Marvin, who was also a good student and a former athlete, Darius was on UNT’s dean’s list, worked two jobs and had no criminal background. He was also a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement. His father claims that his son was a 150-pound kid in a mental health crisis, and he was killed by “well-trained” officers.
“So what does that tell you?” Kevin asked the crowd outside Big Ray’s. “If that’s what you call well-trained, that’s what you call murder, and if they’re trained to murder, that’s why we have to bring change because we cannot continue to allow this to happen. We look all around, and we’re supposed to be one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. But when it comes to a Black life, there’s no justice.”
Sweat poured down protesters’ faces as they marched in the 80-degree weather in masks and dark clothing that absorbed the sun’s heat. They had all just finished releasing red, black and green balloons into the sky above Big Ray’s BBQ to represent Marvin’s favorite colors and mental health awareness.
Several Allen police officers were parked horizontally to block off streets to ensure the protesters’ safety, and carefully watched as protesters made their way to the Allen Police Department. None of them joined in the march.
As they approached the police department, LaChay took a detour and led the 150 protestors toward a nearby intersection past the department building. Cars piled up, and Allen police followed to help direct traffic. Some of the drivers were noticeably angry. A white woman in a pick-up truck stuck her middle finger out of her car window at protesters, while people of color stuck their fists out of their car windows in support.
LaChay didn’t miss a beat. She held her protest sign high for all to see. “A joint does not justify murder,” it read. Her voice was hoarse as she chanted with other protestors: “No justice, no peace,” “Say his name — Marvin Scott III,” “Arrest the Collin County eight.”
The Scott Family’s Next Steps
About 30 minutes later, LaChay and the protestors returned to the parking lot of Big Ray’s BBQ. A Collin County NAACP member approached and told her that they could end the event.
But LaChay didn’t want it to end. Not yet.
“I’m going to keep going for my brother,” she said and continued marching on with the protestors following close behind.
They passed Big Ray’s, marched through another intersection and into a nearby parking lot. The Allen police weren’t too far behind.
LaChay looked over her shoulder at the protestors. “We’ve got all the time in the world,” she told them. “Marvin doesn’t.”