News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
News

Collin County Grand Jury Declines To Indict Officers Involved In Marvin Scott’s Death

Headshot of Marvin Scott III, a Black man, in a car.
Justice for Marvin Scott III Facebook page.
Scott's family set up a Facebook group and are collecting contact information from people who'd like to stay informed about the case and their plans.

A Collin County grand jury has decided not to indict eight former correctional officers involved in the in-custody death of Marvin Scott III, who may have been experiencing a mental health crisis.

In a statement, the grand jury said it found that no probable cause exists to issue criminal charges against the officers: Blaise Mikulewicz, Austin Wong, Justin Patrick, Rafael Paredez, James Schoelen, Alec Difatta, Andres Cardenas and Christopher Windsor.

"This case is a tragedy for all involved, first and foremost for the family and friends of Mr. Scott," Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis said in a statement. "For a parent to lose a child, including an adult child, is a loss that’s profound, permanent and unfixable. I ask everyone to join me in sending the Scott family prayers of comfort, solace and strength.”

Lee Merritt, the attorney representing Scott's family, tweeted they are extremely disappointed by the decision and looking forward to a review by a federal grand jury.

The 26-year-old was arrested in March in Allen for possessing a small amount of marijuana. Allen officers took Scott to a hospital because he was reportedly acting erratically. Police then took him to the county jail.

Detention officers placed Scott on a restraint bed, used pepper spray and covered his face with a spit mask.

Scott became unresponsive. His death was ruled a homicide in April.

Merritt said Scott had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and that the failure of prosecutors to secure indictments reflects a trend in Texas of "undervaluing the lives" of Black Americans who are experiencing mental health issues.

Seven of the detention officers were fired for violating sheriff’s office policies and procedures. An eighth officer resigned.

The criminal investigation into Scott's death was conducted by the Texas Rangers.

The grand jury recommended the county commission a working group that includes community leaders, law-enforcement officials and mental health providers to review how Scott's death happened and find "the best solutions" for treating people with mental illness who come in contact with the criminal justice system.

“I too share the grand jury’s concern for the treatment of individuals suffering from mental illness," Willis said.

"And I pledge to honor Mr. Scott by taking the lead in assembling a working group to look for lessons learned so that his tragic in-custody death will not have been in vain.”

Read the grand jury's full statement below:

“We, the Grand Jury of Collin County, Texas, wish to make a statement and give our recommendations regarding the in-custody death of Marvin Scott III:

After careful consideration of the applicable law and all the relevant facts, we find that no probable cause exists to charge any person with a criminal offense related to the death of Mr. Scott. Accordingly, we have issued a no-bill for each of the eight detention officers involved.

This case was a tragedy foremost for Mr. Scott and his family, but also for his friends and our entire community. We would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Mr. Scott for the terrible loss you have suffered. We hope you can someday find peace.

We sincerely hope that the loss of Marvin Scott III will not be in vain. We are therefore recommending that a work group be convened as soon as practicable to study the events of March 14th for lessons learned in an effort to avoid any similar future tragedy.

We recommend that this work group consist of a diverse group of Collin County community leaders, criminal justice and law enforcement stakeholders, local hospitals and mental health providers.

The goal of this work group should be finding the best solutions for the treatment of individuals with mental illness who come into contact with the criminal justice system.

To our fellow Collin County citizens, we ask you to respect each other, and to respect each other’s rights and opinions, and we hope any vigils, demonstrations, or protests remain peaceful.

Because we are bound by our oath to respect the laws mandating Grand Jury secrecy, we will have no further statements either collectively or individually. We ask everyone to respect our privacy and the oath we took.”

This is a developing story.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member and writes about the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities for KERA News. Email Alejandra at amartinez@kera.org. You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.