Texas Man Dies In Custody For Weed Possession

It’s an overstated and almost moot statement by this point, but the socio-economic devastation caused by the War on Drugs can’t ever be understated.

Millions of lives, billions of opportunities and trillions of dollars over the almost five decades of critical failure are the perfect summary of this clearly lost war. Yet, America being the exceptionally egotistical country that it is, refuses to lose a war, as long as we don’t discuss conflicts in Vietnam or the Korean Peninsula. Almost all science and studies not funded by prohibitionist groups such as Smart Approaches to Marijuana suggest that drug prohibition resulting in incarceration and criminal records result in far more social harm and disadvantages than harm reduction and advantages.

And it’s not just a gawky Jewish cannabis refugee turned journalist from Texas proclaiming this very factual statement. In the 2011 Report of The Global Commission on Drug Policy, an organization that held the former or current presidents/prime ministers of FIVE different countries as well as famous global diplomats and strategists such as Kofi Annan, the report’s first sentence reads:

“The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed.”

And yet, despite global evidence of the Drug War’s many critical failures, many law enforcement agencies and precincts in Texas still subscribe to the philosophy as based in research and fact as Mike “Mr. MyPillow” Lindell’s recent documentary “Absolute Proof”. Throughout decades, the fact that drug prohibition is far deadlier and more dangerous towards society than the personal use of the drug itself in most cases, especially the prohibition of cannabis, has been proven endlessly. 

That horrific fact, along with the serious and oftentimes fatal subject of police interaction during a mental health crisis, was tragically proven once again in Collin County on March 14th. At the Allen Premium Outlets this past Sunday, police were called to respond to a public mental health crisis happening with 26-year-old Marvin D Scott III. According to reporting done by NBC Channel 5, Scott was diagnosed with schizophrenia many years ago and hadn’t had an interaction with law enforcement in over a year. He had been on a medication routine for some time too. 

During previous interactions, Colin County police would always take the young man to the same mental treatment facility as opposed to a detention facility or a hospital. However, on this recent arrest that proved to be fatal, police took Scott to  the Collin County Detention Facility, where he would mysteriously die at 11:32 PM that night. The justification for placing Marvin Scott III unter arrest as opposed to repeating previous protocol when responding to previous episodes, according to the Scott family attorney and famed civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, was an arrest for under 2 ounces of cannabis. 

Merritt says that police found “an article” of cannabis near Scott, likely a mostly smoked joint or another miniscule amount. Yet, the young black man with well documented struggles with mental health was taken into Collin County police custody, and the Scott family lost their middle child as a result. 

“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,” Merritt said. “He needed help at a facility, they failed to do that, they took him into custody instead and in custody, he died.”

Merritt further claims that the restraining of Scott in a county jail cell resulted in his death, estimating that six or seven different officers were involved in the restraint process. Per the policy of Collin County when such a tragic event occurs, all seven officers have been placed on administrative leave. What physical methods or force were used to restrain Scott also hasn’t been revealed, although Merritt described those methods as “overly physical”.  

The investigation regarding Mr. Scott’s death is now in the hands of the Texas Rangers and the Collin County Sheriff’s Office won’t comment on any investigation matters until the investigation has concluded. Regardless of the outcome and revelations detailed in the investigation, Marvin Scott Jr. and LaSandra Scott have lost their middle child. And Mr. Scott’s case should serve as a perfect example of the many issues that are present in law enforcement’s often problematic relationship with ethically policing.

Mr. Scott, an African American man with diagnosed schizophrenia, was arrested supposedly because of misdemeanor cannabis possession. As detailed in numerous instances, police interaction with an individual having a mental health episode can end fatally. Second, the statistic of Black Americans being 2.5 times as likely on average to be killed by law enforcement compared to White Americans must be acknowledged. Third, it’s downright unethical and socially unacceptable to detain someone clearly suffering a mental health episode based on a charge that isn’t even an arrestable offense in most parts of neighboring Dallas County.

The death of Mr. Scott is a tragedy, one that could’ve been avoided if a number of factors occurred differently. And yet, the fact that a young man with mental illness was arrested for such a nonsense charge was unacceptable, possibly unconstitutional and should be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent. 

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