PLANO, Texas — A May 2 protest within the city limits of Plano has garnered wide-scale attention. The incident involves a confrontation between a driver who exited his vehicle and confronted protestors. The latest to chime in on the topic is Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a Monday afternoon Facebook post.
The rally was held to call for justice for Marvin Scott. Scott died on March 14 while in custody at the Collin County Jail. Witnesses told WFAA the rally was peaceful and the confrontation between the driver and protestors lasted under two minutes and at the very end of the scheduled protest.
Plano Police released a statement on the incident on Monday, saying dispatchers received multiple calls from stalled drivers at State Highway 121 and Preston Road. The initial call to police was about a possible "malfunctioning signal." It was later determined there were "50 protestors in and around the roadway."
There are multiple videos that show the encounter between the driver and the protesters. The driver is heard yelling to the one officer on scene, "Get these [expletive] people out of the way!" The driver engages with the officer for a few seconds and later turns to the crowd and appears to attempt to slap a phone out of the hand of one of the protestors.
"During this incident, a female reported that she was assaulted by a male who confronted the protestors. Due to the position of the crowd, the officer did not witness the assault. The officer de-escalated the situation by removing the male away from the crowd...After speaking with the victim and the suspect, and reviewing video footage of the incident, detectives filed an Assault-by-Contact charge with the Municipal Court against the male suspect," reads the police statement.
The Plano Police Department says it is not releasing the name of the suspect or the victim for their personal safety concerns. Police said the victim filed an assault by contact charge — a Class C misdemeanor.
The video of the incident has been widely seen and shared in the last several days.
Paxton drafted a statement, reading in part that protestors last week "illegally shut down traffic underneath a major highway." Paxton said when a man got out of his car, demanding the group move, a man "pulled what appears to be a gun and pointed it at the man. Meanwhile, rather than disperse the crowd or arrest the lawbreakers, the lone police officer told the man to go away."
In his statement, Paxton asked why the "guy who pulled the weapon" was not charged.
Plano police clarified to WFAA that the device in the man's hand was not a gun but rather an electronic control device, or commonly known as a Taser. Police Chief Ed Drain says the device was "purchased without a permit or license and the person who pointed the device did not commit a criminal offense by doing so."
In his statement, Paxton wrote a scathing statement against the police chief for his handling of the situation, writing the chief was "anxious to excuse the rioters." He ended his statement by writing, "I will never allow our beautiful Texas cities and neighborhoods to become Portland or Seattle or San Francisco because of the unchecked left."
The Plano Police Department clarified to WFAA that the protestors were asked to disperse after the brief confrontation and had complied. The group was told by officers that obstructing traffic is illegal. Drain says traffic had been stalled for a total of seven minutes.
"It is regrettable that so many people have falsely reported on this incident over social media," read the police statement.
The issue even spilled out into Monday's Plano City Council meeting where advocates on both sides spoke up during the public comment portion of the meeting.
"I am deeply concerned that [the protestors] have not been arrested or charged. I am asking you to enforce the laws," said one speaker.
"Instead of being appalled for being in traffic for seven minutes we are mourning the loss of a community member," said another speaker, referring to Marvin Scott.
The jail has still not released the names of the detention officers who were fired after Scott's death, nor the in-house jail video of Scott's final moments. Scott's family is demanding the eight detention officers involved in his death be arrested.