- A Texas Sheriff announced Thursday that he fired seven detention officers on March 14, the same day they were involved in the in-custody death of a Black inmate who was being held on misdemeanor charges for marijuana. An eighth officer has also since resigned.
- Officers said the inmate, 26-year-old Marvin D. Scott III, began to “exhibit some strange behavior” in his cell, so they reportedly secured him to a restraint bed and pepper-sprayed him while trying to apply a spit hood.
- Scott eventually lost consciousness and was pronounced dead after being rushed to the hospital, and his family claims he may have been experiencing a mental crisis related to his schizophrenia.
- Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner said the officers violated well-established policies and procedures, adding, “Everyone in Collin County deserves safe and fair treatment, including those in custody at our jail. I will not tolerate less.”
Seven detention officers at a Texas jail have been fired over the in-custody death of a Black inmate who may have been experiencing a mental health crisis while being held on misdemeanor drug charges.
In a statement released Thursday afternoon announcing the terminations, Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner also said an eighth officer who was under investigation for the death has resigned.
“Evidence I have seen confirms that these detention officers violated well-established Sheriff’s Office policies and procedures,” Skinner said. “Everyone in Collin County deserves safe and fair treatment, including those in custody at our jail. I will not tolerate less.”
Skinner stressed that a criminal investigation into the inmate’s death “continues.”
The Death of Marvin D. Scott III
That inmate, 26-year-old Marvin D. Scott III, died on March 14 hours after being arrested by officers at an outlet mall in Frisco, Texas.
The situation began when the Allen Police Department said it responded to the scene because of reports that a man, later identified as Scott, was “acting in an erratic manner.” In a statement, officers noted that they “were concerned for his safety due to the possible ingestion of drugs.”
They then called paramedics to the scene for assistance, and Scott was rushed to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Allen, where he remained for the next three hours. After being discharged, Scott was processed at the Allen Police Headquarters holding facility but then transferred to the Collin County Sheriff’s Office.
According to Collin County sheriff’s Capt. Nick Bristow, Scott was charged with possession of fewer than two ounces of marijuana, which is a misdemeanor in the state.
Later that day, detention officers said Scott began to “exhibit some strange behavior.” That “behavior” then prompted officers to lock Scott onto a restraint bed, where they proceeded to pepper-spray him while trying to attach a spit hood. During the struggle, Scott because unresponsive, and as a result, was rushed back to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Sheriff Skinner said he fired seven of the detention officers involved on that same day.
The Investigation Into Scott’s Death
An independent autopsy later determined that Scott’s death was likely caused by restraint and asphyxiation. Notably, spit hoods have been linked to multiple deaths and have become increasingly controversial over the past year, especially following the in-custody suffocation of Daniel Prude in Rochester, New York, last March.
Within the next several weeks, the office of the Collin County Medical Examiner is expected to release a second autopsy report.
According to his mother, Scott was diagnosed with schizophrenia two years ago.
While she told NBC Dallas-Fort Worth that he hadn’t an episode in about a year, she added, “When we got him okay with his medication, he was starting to take them and fell off and felt like if he would use marijuana, it would benefit him more.”
Lee Merritt, the family’s lawyer, has accused police of jailing Marvin for marijuana charges because he was Black and for viewing him as a criminal rather than someone experiencing a mental health crisis.
Now, the family is calling for the officers involved in Scott’s death to be arrested. They’re also seeking answers to the questions of why Scott was discharged from the hospital, if life-saving interventions could have been employed while he was being restrained, and if the officers involved had mental health training.
Scott’s death has spurred protests outside the Collin County jail.
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Conservatives Slam Elmo For Getting Vaccinated Against COVID-19
While critics accused the muppet of promoting propaganda, CDC data shows the shots are safe and effective.
Elmo Gets Vaccinated
Conservative politicians expressed outrage on Twitter after the beloved “Sesame Street” character Elmo revealed he got vaccinated against COVID-19 on Tuesday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently cleared the way for children between the ages of six months and five years to get vaccinated against the virus. The famous red muppet is three years old, making him finally eligible for the jab.
In a video shared by “Sesame Street,” Elmo said that he felt “a little pinch, but it was okay.”
Elmo’s father, Louie, then addressed parents who might be apprehensive about vaccinating their own kids.
“I had a lot of questions about Elmo getting the COVID vaccine,” he said to the camera. “Was it safe? Was it the right decision? I talked to our pediatrician so I could make the right choice.”
“I learned that Elmo getting vaccinated is the best way to keep himself, our friends, neighbors, and everyone else healthy and enjoying the things they love,” he continued.
Republicans Criticize “Sesame Street”
While some praised the video for raising awareness and addressing the concerns parents may have, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx) quickly lambasted the effort.
“Thanks, Sesame Street for saying parents are allowed to have questions,” Cruz tweeted. “You then have Elmo aggressively advocate for vaccinating children UNDER 5. But you cite ZERO scientific evidence for this.”
Despite Cruz’s claim, the CDC has provided ample resources with information on vaccines for children.
He was not alone in criticizing the video. Harmeet Dhillon, a committeewoman of the Republican National Committee for California, suggested that Elmo would be taking puberty blockers next.
Other anti-vaxxers claimed Elmo would get myocarditis and accused “Sesame Street” of promoting propaganda.
COVID-19 vaccines have been proven to be both safe and effective against transmission of the virus, but this is not the first time conservatives have turned their anger against a friendly-looking muppet who opted to get the jab. When Big Bird got vaccinated in November, Cruz and other right-wing figures accused the show of brainwashing kids.
Big Bird’s choice to get vaccinated was not a shocker though, clips dating back to 1972 show him getting immunized against the measles.
See what others are saying: (CNN) (The Hill) (Market Watch)
Uvalde Puts Police Chief on Leave, Tries to Kick Him Off City Council
If Pete Arredondo fails to attend two more consecutive city council meetings, then he may be voted out of office.
Police Chief Faces Public Fury
Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo was placed on administrative leave Wednesday following revelations that he and his officers did not engage the shooter at Robb Elementary for over an hour despite having adequate weaponry and protection.
Superintendent Hal Harrell, who made the announcement, did not specify whether the leave is paid or unpaid.
Harrell said in a statement that the school district would have waited for an investigation to conclude before making any personnel decisions, but chose to order the administrative leave because it is uncertain how long the investigation will take.
Lieutenant Mike Hernandez, the second in command at the police department, will assume Arredondo’s duties.
In an interview with The Texas Tribune earlier this month, Arredondo said he did not consider himself in charge during the shooting, but law enforcement records reviewed by the outlet indicate that he gave orders at the scene.
Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw told state senators on Tuesday that some officers wanted to enter the classrooms harboring the shooter but were stopped by their superiors.
He said officer Ruben Ruiz tried to move forward into the hallway after receiving a call from his wife Eva Mireles, a teacher inside one of the classrooms, telling him she had been shot and was bleeding to death.
Ruiz was detained, had his gun taken away, and was escorted off the scene, according to McCraw. Mireles later died of her wounds.
Calls for Arredondo to resign or be fired have persisted.
Emotions Erupt at City Council
Wednesday’s announcement came one day after the Uvalde City Council held a special meeting in which community members and relatives of victims voiced their anger and demanded accountability.
“Who are you protecting?” Asked Jasmine Cazares, sister of Jackie Cazares, a nine-year-old student who was shot. “Not my sister. The parents? No. You’re too busy putting them in handcuffs.”
Much of the anger was directed toward Arredondo, who was not present at the meeting but was elected to the city council on May 7, just over two weeks before the massacre.
“We are having to beg ya’ll to do something to get this man out of our faces,” said the grandmother of Amerie Jo Garza, a 10-year-old victim. “We can’t see that gunman. That gunman got off easy. We can’t take our frustrations out on that gunman. He’s dead. He’s gone. … Ya’ll need to put yourselves in our shoes, and don’t say that none of ya’ll have, because I guarantee you if any of ya’ll were in our shoes, ya’ll would have been pulling every string that ya’ll have to get this man off the council.”
One woman demanded the council refuse to grant Arredondo the leave of absence he had requested, pointing out that if he fails to attend three consecutive meetings the council can vote him out for abandoning his office.
“What you can do right now is not give him, if he requests it, a leave of absence,” she said. “Don’t give him an out. We don’t want him. We want him out.”
After hearing from the residents, the council voted unanimously not to approve the leave of absence.
On Tuesday, Uvalde’s mayor announced that Robb Elementary is set to be demolished, saying no students or teachers should have to return to it after what happened.
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Texas Public Safety Director Says Police Response to Uvalde Shooting Was An “Abject Failure”
New footage shows officers prepared to engage the shooter one hour before they entered the classroom.
Seventy-Seven Deadly Minutes
Nearly a month after the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas that killed 19 children and two teachers, evidence has emerged indicating that police were prepared to engage the shooter within minutes of arriving, but chose to wait over an hour.
The shooting at Robb Elementary began at 11:33 a.m., and within three minutes 11 officers are believed to have entered the school, according to surveillance and body camera footage obtained by KVUE and the Austin American Statesman.
District Police Chief Pete Arredondo reportedly called a landline at the police department at 11:40 a.m. for help.
“It’s an emergency right now,” he said. “We have him in the room. He’s got an AR-15. He’s shot a lot… They need to be outside the building prepared because we don’t have firepower right now. It’s all pistols.”
At 11:52 a.m., however, the footage shows multiple officers inside the school armed with at least two rifles and one ballistic shield.
Law enforcement did not enter the adjoined classrooms to engage the shooter until almost an hour later, at 12:50 p.m. During that time, one officer’s daughter was inside the classrooms and another’s wife, a teacher, reportedly called him to say she was bleeding to death.
Thirty minutes before law enforcement entered the classrooms, the footage shows officers had four ballistic shields in the hallway.
Frustrated Cops Want to Go Inside
Some of the officers felt agitated because they were not allowed to enter the classrooms.
One special agent at the Texas Department of Public Safety arrived about 20 minutes after the shooting started, then immediately asked, “Are there still kids in the classrooms?”
“It is unknown at this time,” another officer replied.
“Ya’ll don’t know if there’s kids in there?” The agent shot back. “If there’s kids in there we need to go in there.”
“Whoever is in charge will determine that,” the other officer responded.
According to an earlier account by Arredondo, he and the other officers tried to open the doors to the classrooms, but found them both locked and waited for a master key to arrive. But surveillance footage suggests that they never tried to open the doors, which a top Texas official has confirmed were never actually locked.
One officer has told reporters that within minutes of the police response, there was a Halligan bar, which firefighters use to break down locked doors, on-site, but it was never used.
At a special State Senate committee hearing Monday, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw called the police response an “abject failure” and “antithetical to everything we’ve learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre.”
“The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from (entering rooms) 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children,” he said. “The officers have weapons, the children had none.”