Forty-five days after Marvin Scott III’s death, his family watched footage of the events that led to the 26-year-old’s untimely death at the hands of Collin County jail detention officers.
As Marvin’s mom, LaSandra Scott; sister, LaChay Batts; father, Marvin Scott Jr.; brother, Quinten Scott, and their legal team slowly walked into the Collin County Courthouse for a Wednesday press conference to discuss updates on the case, it was clear that Marvin’s last moments are burned into their minds forever.
LaChay, who has been spearheading protests since Marvin’s death, couldn’t even speak. She stood behind Lee Merritt, a federal civil rights attorney representing the family, with tears pouring down her face.
Even Merritt, who has handled many cases like Marvin’s, struggled getting his words out as he announced that the Collin County Medical Examiner, Dr. William Rohr, ruled Marvin’s manner of death a homicide. However, one of the seven officers fired for his involvement in Marvin’s death was reinstated last week through the civil service process. Between the footage, his cause of death and the reinstated officer, it was evident by the looks on his family members’ faces that they were sick of the case’s ongoing pattern of two steps forward and one step back.
“What we’ve seen today was very horrific, inhumane, very disheartening, and we want these individuals arrested immediately,” LaSandra said at the press conference.
Marvin Scott III’s Manner & Cause of Death
On March 14, Allen Police arrested Marvin for having a joint in the Allen Premium Outlets parking lot. They also found him mumbling to himself. Marvin’s friends and family have said multiple times that he had schizophrenia. Police then took Marvin to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Allen. They brought him to the Collin County Jail after a doctor checked and cleared him.
While Marvin was in police custody later that night, he “exhibited some strange behavior,” Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner said at a press conference in March. The detention officers then pepper-sprayed him, covered his face with a spit hood and attempted to strap him to a restraint bed. Marvin died during this struggle.
Dr. Rohr ruled Scott’s cause of death as a “fatal acute stress response in an individual with previously diagnosed schizophrenia during [a] restraint struggle with law enforcement.” The final autopsy report will be released at a later date.
At the press conference, Merritt said the video showed that the Allen Police Department, Allen Presbyterian Hospital and Collin County Jail failed Marvin and his family. He said the detention officers killed Marvin because he was schizophrenic and having a mental health episode.
“There were clear, open signs that, even to the untrained eye, could’ve observed Marvin Scott needed help,” Merritt said. “Instead, he received brutality. Instead, he was maced. He was assaulted. He was restrained. He was treated as someone who was being criminally non-compliant, not as someone in need of desperate help.”
Skinner placed seven detention employees on administrative leave and ordered an internal investigation on March 15. He also referred the case to the Texas Rangers, who are still investigating. On April 1, Skinner announced the firing of the seven officers on administrative leave. An eighth officer also resigned.
Merritt demanded that Collin County’s District Attorney Greg Willis issue arrest warrants to the officers involved in Marvin’s death.
“Mr. Willis’ office has been professional,” Merritt said. “They’ve been polite. But we haven’t asked them to be either professional or polite — we’ve asked them to do what is right according to the law.”
The nearly five-hour-long video Marvin’s family and legal team reviewed showed only what took place in the jail, Merritt said. There wasn’t audio in the video. He said reviewing the footage was “emotionally draining” for him and Marvin’s family.
“[While watching the footage], I wanted to be there for him, but it was too late,” Marvin’s brother, Quinten, said at the press conference.
The footage showed Marvin “in distress” and “rapidly deteriorating,” Merritt said. It showed six detention officers, and several kneeled on top of Marvin at one point. “Some level of homicide” is the appropriate charge in Marvin’s case, Merritt said. What level of homicide is based on the question of the officers’ intentions, which “has not been resolved.”
Merritt said at the end of the press conference that they still didn’t have the names of the eight detention officers or the name of the reinstated officer.
“I just want to say today was a very, very difficult day,” Marvin Scott Jr. said at the press conference. “After reviewing the video… I feel that justice has to be served. It has to be.”
The Officers’ Names
But shortly after the press conference, Marvin’s family finally got something they have been begging for during protests and press conferences the past 45 days — the names of the eight officers involved in his death, courtesy of The Dallas Morning News.
Since Marvin’s death, his family and supporters have been demanding the names of the seven — and later, eight — detention officers at various protests. After over a month of begging, it seemed like those names would never come. The Collin County Sheriff’s Office and Texas Rangers remained tight-lipped.
However, the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement requires law enforcement agencies to file reports when officers or jailers resign or are fired. Because of that, The News filed a public information request with the commission for the names and “personal status reports” of the eight Collin County jailers with April 1 separation dates. But the identity of the reinstated officer is still unknown.
Here are the names of the eight officers, according to The News:
- Alec Difatta, who worked as a Collin County Sheriff’s Office jailer for two years and nine months.
- Andres Cardenas, who started working as a Collin County Sheriff’s Office jailer in April 2017, working on and off for three years and six months.
- Austin Wong, who worked as a Denton County Sheriff’s Office jailer for seven years before leaving to work in the Collin County Sheriff’s Office in December 2017.
- Blaise Mikulewicz, who served as the commander of detention services for the Collin County Sheriff’s Office since December 2019. He was previously a Dallas County Sheriff’s Office jailer and peace officer for seven years and in the Denton County Sheriff’s Office for five months in 2012. He also worked for the FBI as a peace officer for 23 years before retiring in 2011.
- Christopher Windsor, who worked for the Collin County Sheriff’s Office for 19 years.
- James Schoelen, who worked as a Collin County Sheriff’s Office jailer since October 2017.
- Justin Patrick, who worked as a Collin County Sheriff’s Office jailer since August 2011.
- Rafael Paradez, who worked as a Collin County Sheriff’s Office jailer since December 2018.