On March 14, LaChay Batts' younger brother Marvin D. Scott III, 26, died after being taken into custody by police and moved to a Texas jail. But the 28-year-old mother of two admits that she is still struggling with his death.
Scott was arrested outside of an outlet mall after security guards reported smelling marijuana in the vicinity and called police. Scott was then brought to Collin County Detention Facility, but didn’t make it out of the facility alive and his family wants to know why and who is responsible.
Last week Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner said that Scott “exhibited some strange behavior” and detention officers placed him on a restraint bed, used pepper spray and placed a spit mask on his face. But he became non responsive and an ambulance was called and was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. Skinner placed a captain, a lieutenant, two sergeants and three detention officers on administrative leave.
Meanwhile the Texas Rangers have begun an investigation, but no criminal charges have been filed so far.
Batts called her brother “my road dog. He picked up my boys from school every day, they spent the night at his house and we would go out together. His friends were my friends and my friends were his friends.” She spoke to BET.com about her feelings and the questions her family still wants answered, particularly from Skinner, of whom she remains skeptical.
BET.com: What are your feelings at this moment in regards to your brother’s unfortunate and mysterious passing?
LaChay Batts: At this point, of course, I’m sad. I’m hurt and it’s starting to turn into anger. Here we are nine days later and justice still hasn’t been served.
BET.com: At this point what would constitute justice for your brother, your family and yourself?
Batts: My idea of justice is to hold everybody involved accountable for their actions. Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Allen Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, and even the Texas Rangers. There are still actions that were taken that should lead to the officers at the Collin County Detention Facility employees being arrested. All of their actions contributed to my brother’s death.
BET.com: What can the Collin County Sheriff's Office and District Attorney’s Office do to better explain what happened to Marvin on March 14 and thereafter?
Batts: They can hold the seven [Collin County Detention Facility] officers accountable, release the footage from that night, and release the names of all the officers immediately. If I was one of them I would put my badge on the desk and quit. I couldn’t stand for something that’s not right. I understand that it’s all about protecting their system but when does it become about doing what’s right?
BET.com: In your opinion can whatever information your family and attorney receive from Sheriff Skinner be trusted?
Batts: At this point [Collin County Sheriff] Jim Skinner can’t be trusted. He’s not being transparent.
BET.com: It is believed that Marvin might have been suffering from a mental health episode while in custody. Do you believe mental health training should be required for all Collin County Sheriff’s and Collin County Detention Facility employees? If so, why?
Batts: Yes. Mental health training should be part of police training. They should be trained to know how to deal with situations like the one with my brother. Every police department across the nation should be trained on what to do with someone in crisis.
BET.com: Why do you believe Marvin’s death while in the custody of law enforcement and other similar situations involving law enforcement, Sandra Bland comes to mind, continues to happen to men and women of color?
Batts: It’s a combination of a lack of training and [their] lack of sympathy for us. [They] put on their uniforms and they get a sense of power to think they are above the system. They are not above the system. Somebody should have realized this was someone’s son, someone’s uncle. He could have been someone’s father. [NOTE: Scott III did not have children]
BET.com: How are your parents holding up?
Batts: My mom, she’s not doing that good. Nothing is going to bring her peace because her son isn’t coming back. And I can’t imagine how my dad is taking it, he and Marvin were roommates. He can’t even go into his son’s room.
BET.com: As a parent yourself how do you feel having this happened to your kid’s uncle? How do you explain it to them?
Batts: I live in Collin County, I have two Black sons and I could not imagine what it’s like to lose a son.