Unfortunately, it’s a story often told by marijuana advocates. Young Black men are being treated outrageously versus their white counterparts, especially when law enforcement can pin their harassing behavior on the criminalization of marijuana.
26 Year-old Marvin Scott III Died in Custody at Collin County Jail
Marvin Scott was arrested at the Allen Premium Outlets after being charged with possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana. Scott was reported as acting strangely in the stores, and although he had a history of mental health issues, police stated they noticed him “acting in an erratic manner and were concerned for his safety due to the possible ingestion of drugs,” the Allen Police Department said in a statement.
Police then escorted him to a local hospital, where he was evaluated and released into police custody. In the past, officers would take Scott to the local mental health facility to allow him to get his medication squared away. However, with the instance of marijuana possession, this time Allen PD took Scott to the county jail.
While there in custody, officers report that his erratic behavior escalated, resulting in them having to restrain and pepper spray the victim. He was eventually placed in a spit mask, restrained, and ultimately became unresponsive.
Law enforcement officials transported him immediately to the local hospital, where he was declared deceased.
County Sheriff Jim Skinner terminated seven detention officers.
With recent law enforcement behavior being called to task, as in the instances of George Floyd, Daniel Prude, and Breonna Taylor, cops handling issues as delicate as mental health is a tricky topic. Scott’s family has confirmed that he was diagnosed as having schizophrenia, and believe that his behavior the night of his death is caused by his illness.
“Evidence I have seen confirms that these detention officers violated well-established Sheriff’s Office policies and procedures,” Skinner shared with The Washington Post. “Everyone in Collin County deserves safe and fair treatment, including those in custody at our jail. I will not tolerate less.”
Skinner fired seven officers the day after Scott’s death, and said that an eighth has resigned due to the investigation. The names of the officers have not been released, and the Texas Rangers are still working on the investigation. Cause of death has not been released yet by the Collin County medical examiner’s office.
Last month during a news conference, the Sheriff confirmed there is a video that shows the interaction between Scott and the detention officers. Currently, because the video footage shows the inside of the jail, they would not be sharing it publicly.
The Scott family is demanding justice for Marvin.
The Scott family has sought an independent pathologist to review the case and determine cause of death, hoping to gain traction in their outcry that Scott should have been helped and not harmed. The family is being represented by Lee Merritt, civil rights lawyer.
Merritt has made it clear that he believes Scott was jailed for a misdemeanor charge because he is Black, and officers reacted to Scott as a criminal versus someone in need of help.
A tweet from Merritt said, in reference to the terminations, “We are pleased with this decision and consider this progress.” But, the family also is asking that the officers involved be served justice, and that arrests be made in their son’s name.
Although this story is familiar and has culminated in a grievous loss of life, the Sheriff of Collin County seems to have his priorities in the correct order.
“People are upset. They family’s upset. The community is upset. I’m upset,” Skinner said ona news conference video posted by the Dallas Morning News. “The death of this young man is a profound tragedy and we have an obligation to uncover the full and complete truth.”
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