Lee Merritt also faces one charge of unlawful carrying of a weapon, police said.
A North Texas civil rights attorney — who has been involved in high-profile cases on behalf of Black people killed by police — was arrested Sunday afternoon in McKinney after, police say, a protest blocked a highway.
Lee Merritt, 40, was listed in the Collin County jail records Monday morning. Merritt did not immediately respond to a call Monday, and it was unclear whether he had an attorney.
The Collin County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Monday that Merritt was given a personal recognizance bond and being processed for release.
Merritt is an advocate for victims of police violence and known nationally for his work, including on cases representing the families of Botham Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, Marvin Scott III and Darius Tarver. He also had an unsuccessful campaign for Texas attorney general in 2022.
Merritt was arrested by the McKinney Police Department about 4 p.m. on charges of obstructing a highway/passageway and unlawful carrying of a weapon, according to McKinney police.
Officers responded to U.S. Highway 380 after receiving multiple 911 calls that a group of about 20 people, including children, was blocking the roadway, police said.
According to a news release from the Police Department, officers followed the people for “several minutes, blocking traffic for them” while asking them not to block the roadway and “gave 10 minutes of warnings.”
“Protesters told our officers they wanted to be arrested,” the release said.
The majority of the group left the roadway, but Merritt and two other people, Shelby Tauber, 26, and Lachay Batts, 30, were arrested in connection with the protest, police said.
Batts is the sister of Marvin Scott III, a Black man from McKinney who died in 2021 at the Collin County Jail after he was pepper-sprayed and put in a spit hood while restrained to a bed. Merritt is the family’s attorney and previously told The Dallas Morning News that Scott was experiencing a mental health crisis at the time of his death.
Tauber, the third person arrested, told The News about 20 people gathered in a shopping area off of University Drive to march to bring awareness to mental health around the anniversary of Scott’s death. Tauber is a freelance photographer who has worked for The News.
The group walked down U.S. 380 about 10 minutes when police arrived, she said. Tauber said she had difficulty hearing what police said as they shouted through megaphones over the marchers’ chants. Tauber said she did not say she wanted to be arrested and didn’t hear any of her fellow marchers say that.
“As soon as they came out of the cars, they immediately arrested us,” Tauber said. “They didn’t try to speak to us or anything.”