Michael Scurlock was in a dire state of need for assistance when he stumbled out of his jail cell in Dickinson, a full seventeen hours after a police officer had forcefully slammed him to the ground. His plea for help was a clear indication of the severe physical and emotional trauma he had endured during his time in custody.
In February 2022, video footage from the jail revealed Scurlock struggling to walk, with the jailer’s help. While a judge read him his rights in the jail hallway, the 65-year-old seemed bewildered and disoriented. Shortly after, he fell to the ground, grasping onto a bench for stability.
He kept slurring the same words repeatedly, “I’m hurting so bad,” as if in agony.
Unfortunately, instead of providing him with necessary medical attention, the authorities in Dickinson decided to set him free and transport him back home.
In just 24 hours, Scurlock was admitted to the intensive care unit with a brain bleed, which turned out to be a severe medical emergency. The following two weeks were spent in the hospital, and the remaining nine months of his life were spent in nursing homes and hospitals before he passed away in December 2022.
It has been almost two years since Scurlock was arrested on the grounds of public intoxication, amid suspicions of excessive force and negligence by police officers. The ensuing cover-up by law enforcement leadership has sparked a wave of indignation in Dickinson, with city officials demanding accountability and reforms in police operations. However, it remains to be seen whether the police department in the town of Galveston County will heed these calls for change.
The Houston Landing has obtained exclusive footage of law enforcement’s encounter with Scurlock, which has sparked fury and outrage. This footage is being released for the first time and has been a driving force behind the emotions of those who have seen it.
Upon examining the videos, it becomes apparent that Scurlock suffered a severe injury during his altercation with Officer Michael Kinsley. The officer had arrived at the scene after a collision between a pick-up truck and Scurlock’s bike. Initially, Scurlock appears to be alert and coherent, but after Kinsley forcefully throws him to the ground, he remains limp and unresponsive for almost three minutes. The footage leaves little room for doubt regarding the severity of Scurlock’s injuries.
Upon reviewing the footage, it becomes apparent that several police officers and jail staff encountered Scurlock in a state of distress following the officer’s takedown. Despite initially refusing medical assistance, Scurlock can be seen on video exhibiting various symptoms of severe head trauma over the course of the next 17 hours, including vomiting, dizziness, and difficulty walking. These visual cues speak to the seriousness of Scurlock’s condition and underscore the importance of providing appropriate medical attention in such situations.
City Councilmember Johnnie Simpson Jr. expressed his distress after watching the video footage, stating that it was difficult to watch and hear the man screaming and crying while being unable to stand and see. The emotional impact of the video was so significant that Johnnie Simpson Jr. was unable to sleep afterward.
The fury of Dickinson officials has been further fueled by a report conducted by a private investigator regarding the incident, which they had requested after a whistleblower came forward. The Galveston County Daily News first published the report’s findings in late September.
According to retired Austin Police Department detective Jesse Prado, after conducting an investigation, it was discovered that there was substantial misconduct within the department. This misconduct was found to have reached the upper echelons of the department’s hierarchy.
According to Prado’s investigation, Frank Price, a former Dickinson lieutenant who was leading internal affairs, conducted an inquiry into the matter that was both flawed and biased. Prado found evidence that Price deliberately attempted to cover up the incident. Additionally, Prado determined that Ronald Morales, the former police chief of Dickinson, was intentionally untruthful in his communications with city officials when they asked about the incident.
The case in question saw Dickinson police officers receiving almost no repercussions for their actions.
Mayor Sean Skipworth of Dickinson expressed his shock and disgust upon learning of the report’s findings. He was disheartened and felt betrayed by the upper administration of the department for covering up the incident. Additionally, he was appalled by the mistreatment of Mr. Scurlock.
The cause of Scurlock’s death remains uncertain, as there is no clear evidence to suggest that the head trauma he sustained during the brief scuffle with Kinsley played a role. However, after conducting a thorough review of the video footage and interviewing several individuals involved in the case, Prado has expressed the belief that Kinsley’s behavior on that fateful day may have played a role in Scurlock’s eventual passing.
According to a spokesperson from the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office, the report is currently being reviewed by their public integrity division to determine if any criminal charges are warranted.
Despite multiple attempts, Kinsley, Price, and Morales could not be reached in the past few days.
City officials, including Skipworth, have expressed their desire for reform within the Dickinson Police Department. They have confidence in the newly appointed chief, Michael Berezin, to bring about positive changes in the department. However, during an interview with the Landing, Berezin admitted to having only perused the report without reading it in depth. He also commended Kinsley for his excellent work in his new position.
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