April 19 marked 35 days since Marvin Scott III died in police custody at the Collin County Jail in McKinney. A meeting with the Collin County District Attorney’s office spearheaded by the Collin County NAACP Monday at the Collin County Courthouse was supposed to give Marvin’s family new details to help answer why he died and who was responsible.
They were meeting after a previous meeting with the DA’s Office “yielded no information,” according to a press release from the Collin County NAACP.
But yet again, according to LaSandra Scott, Marvin’s mom, the DA’s Office left them with more unanswered questions.
“It has been a little over a month, and we still don’t have answers,” LaSandra said at a press conference following the April 19 meeting. “We don’t know what happened to my son… all is hearsay. We deserve better than that.”
Low-level Death Warrant
Allen Police arrested Marvin, 26, for smoking a joint in the parking lot of the Allen Premium Outlets on March 14. Police also found him mumbling to himself. According to friends and family, he had schizophrenia. Allen police then took Marvin to a nearby hospital, where a doctor checked him and cleared him for incarceration.
Later that night, he died under suspicious circumstances that allegedly involved asphyxiation, according to an independent third-party autopsy report. Merritt claimed that detention officers restrained Marvin, dosed him with pepper spray and choked him. Since his death, the Scott family and their supporters have been gathering outside the Collin County Jail every night and asking for justice for Marvin.
On March 15, Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner placed seven detention employees on administrative leave and ordered an internal investigation. The case was referred to the Texas Rangers, who are still investigating Marvin’s death. About two weeks later, Skinner announced the firing of the seven officers on administrative leave. An eighth officer also resigned.
Despite these developments, Jenkins pointed out at the press conference that it has been over a month since Marvin died in jail. The family still doesn’t fully understand what happened or have the officers’ body camera footage.
“No one in this community would accept 35 days of not knowing how and what happened to their loved one,” Jenkins said. “We watch around the country as other young Black men are murdered by officers — body cams and videos are released within 35 hours. So 35 days is not acceptable.”
Jenkins said the NAACP is demanding that law enforcement release the body camera footage and other videos that involve Marvin’s case. They “expect to have something by the end of next week.”
However, Jenkins later said that getting the footage by the end of next week is Collin County NAACP’s expectation — not something county officials told them.
Civil rights attorney Blerim Elmazi, who was there representing the family’s attorney Lee Merritt, said the family had a productive meeting with the district attorney’s office. However, just as LaSandra said later during the press conference, they still have many questions surrounding the case.
“There’s a lot we know, and a lot — even more — that we don’t know,” Elmazi said. “What we know is that the punishment for allegedly possessing marijuana is not the death penalty. We know that experiencing a mental health episode… should not result in death.”
Ultimately, the family reiterated their demands to prosecutors during the meeting. They want law enforcement officials to arrest and charge the detention officers. They also want the grand jury to hear the case.
But Elmazi said the Scott family and their team came out of the meeting feeling hopeful. They’re waiting for the Texas Rangers to finish their investigation and for the medical examiner’s office to complete Marvin’s autopsy.
“It was good that we had a chance to at least meet with them and catch up to speed on some things,” Elmazi said. “We are walking away hopeful, but still in desperate need of some answers that just weren’t answered today.”