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People have questions about the May 2 protest. Plano Police have answers



PLANO, TX – A May 2 protest that leaked from Frisco, where it was scheduled, into Plano, has garnered national attention thanks to viral video footage of an altercation between protestors and one motorist.

According to Officer David Tilley of the Plano Police Department, protestors coordinated with the Frisco Police Department for a May 2 protest in honor of Marvin Scott III, a Frisco man whose in-custody death in Collin County has been ruled a homicide.

Frisco police coordinated with the protestors, blocking off a portion of road for the group to use. However, the group went into Plano, which Tilley said had not been planned, crossing on Preston Road under SH 121. The protestors went into a part of the road with vehicles, bringing traffic to a standstill.

According to a Monday statement from the Plano Police Department, an officer was called to the intersection of Preston Road and SH 121. Tilley said the call came to the department as a “traffic hazard” call with a possible crash, and that the caller had mentioned a possible traffic light malfunction. The department said only one officer had responded to the call because of a “heavy call volume.”

The department said around 50 protesters were in and around the roadway, and the officer called for backup as soon as possible. Right after, Tilley said, an angry motorist confronted the protestors.

A resident who sent a video of the scene to Star Local Media claims the man who confronted the protesters first got in the officer’s face, yelled at him and pointed his finger in his face.

She said the man then took a swipe at a woman in an effort to knock her phone out of her hand, and then when a group of protesters approached the man he pushed one of them, which she said was local attorney Lee Merritt.

The woman claims the police officer didn’t intervene other than to talk calmly to the man, saying, “please sir, calm down.”

“At that point, the primary responsibility of that lone officer is to de-escalate a potentially violent situation,” Tilley said in a Wednesday interview. “His concern is not all the people in the roadway. His concern is stopping the threat of a possible altercation about to take place. So that’s what he does.”

During the incident, Plano police said, a female reported that she was “assaulted by a male who confronted the protesters.”

“Due to the position of the crowd, the officer did not witness the assault,” the department stated. “The officer de-escalated the situation by removing the male away from the crowd.”

The Crimes Against Persons Unit followed up on the incident the next day, the department stated. According to the statement, the female victim said the man had slapped her hand in attempting to knock her phone from her hand. While she said she was not injured and that it did not hurt, the woman did say she felt threatened by the male’s actions. In the same statement, Plano police announced that a charge of assault by contact had been filed against the male suspect with the Municipal Court.

“That’s not our decision,” Tilley said.

Tilley said investigators advised the victim that the charge is a Class C Misdemeanor and asked her if she wanted to press charges. She said yes.

“We’re obligated, if she wants to press charges, then we follow up on it, and we did,” Tilley said.

Tilley said by the time the first officer on scene had de-escalated the situation between the motorist and protestors, additional officers had arrived on scene. He said most departments in the area, including Plano Police, have a policy for unlawful assembly that includes a “dispersal order.”

“It’s not like you have a bunch of people out there on the streets, so you just start laying hands on them and you start putting cuffs on them,” Tilley said. “You give them a dispersal order.”

The officers who arrived on scene on May 2 gave an unofficial dispersal order, telling people that they needed to get out of the street.

“And they complied,” Tilley said. “All the protestors, they left. They got out of the street, they got over on the side and traffic resumed back to normal.”

Tilley said blocking the roadway is an offense against the state, not a person, and police have discretion when it comes to offenses against the state.

The decision was made not to pursue charges, but that decision was not made lightly, Tilley said.

“But we have to understand and we want people to understand that we will not or we’re not bowing to these protestors,” he said.

If protestors had refused to get out of the roadway when police told them to, it would have been a different situation, he said.

“Now we are taking it to a different level,” he said. “Now we’re most likely going to be making arrests on people because they’re refusing to follow a lawful order.”

Tilley said he understood people’s concerns about what had taken place. He said he also understood that those stuck in traffic were frustrated.

He added that law enforcement in Collin County is handling the situation appropriately.

“And that’s why we haven’t seen the Portlands and the riots in LA and Seattle and all the other cities that these protestors that have turned into rioters have just taken over,” he said.

He added that Drain is adamant about keeping the community safe.

“And I think the other chiefs in the Collin County area are in the same agreement,” Tilley said. “They just don’t want something like that to occur in our city, and we’re going to do the best to make sure that it doesn’t.”