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Statement on Death of Marvin David Scott III


March 18, 2021

Our local media has generally given only scant attention to the death Sunday night of McKinney resident Marvin David Scott III while being held at the Collin County Detention Center. However, details have been emerging in recent days that this death of yet another Black man at the hands of law enforcement deserves not just more attention but action.

The media reports generally only mention that Mr. Scott, 26, was arrested by Allen city police on Sunday, March 14 for marijuana possession and transported to the county jail. Sometime during the night he was restrained by Collin County Sheriff’s Department employees and died. Seven members of the jail staff have been placed on administrative leave by County Sheriff Jim Skinner. Sheriff Skinner ordered an immediate internal investigation and also referred the matter to Texas Rangers.

The involvement of Allen City police in this incident was initially concerning to many citizens given reports of other recent incidents alleging racial profiling, and raised questions about why Mr. Scott was jailed instead of taken to a hospital. According to our sources Mr. Scott was allegedly acting in a disorderly manner at the Allen Outlet mall, was initially taken to a hospital for evaluation, and then released for confinement and taken to the county jail. We call upon the Allen Police Department to publicly release the incident report.

t happened after Mr. Scott was remanded to the jail is not yet fully clear, but alarming allegations have emerged. Lee Merritt, a noted civil rights attorney who is representing Mr. Scott’s family, has stated to the press that “We found the initial arrest inappropriate, this was not something someone needed an arrest for, to be quite frank, Marvin was suffering a mental health crisis in a public place. He needed help to a facility, they failed to do that, they took him into custody instead and in custody, he died." At a prayer vigil Wednesday evening supported by the Collin County NAACP chapter, Mr. Merritt added some alarming details, stating to those gathered that while in custody, seven officers pepper sprayed Mr. Scott, placed a spit hood over his head, held him in an unlawful choke hold, and pinned his shoulder to the ground under an officer's knee. 

County Chair Mike Rawlins said in regard to this incident:

“Our immediate concern, first and foremost, is for the family and for obtaining justice for Mr. Scott. This issue also raises broader public policy issues that should concern all citizens of the county. Did the Allen PD act properly in performing the arrest? If cities can’t rely on the county to properly confine citizens who may present a danger to themselves or others, what other options do cities have? And most importantly, NO ONE should ever die while in custody at our county jail. Were detention officers acting in a negligent, if not criminal manner? Were they following procedures? Why weren’t they trained in a manner to keep this from happening?”

We are reminded that last year Sheriff Skinner repeatedly criticized a Democratic candidate for House District 67 who called for police reform, publishing inflammatory and false ads about how this candidate wanted to “defund the police.” It is precisely this sort of aggressive police behavior targeting Black men and women, resulting in the deaths of so many Blacks and other People of Color, that our candidate was calling to reform. This needless death happened on Sheriff Skinner’s watch, and he must be held accountable.

The Collin County Democratic Party fully supports the demands of the Scott family and their attorney, and the Collin County Chapter of the NAACP, in seeking a full investigation and appropriate prosecutions in this matter, as well as changes in local law enforcement to ensure that no one ever dies in detention again.

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Contact – Jeff Quiggle, Communications Director