Civil rights lawyer Lee Merritt says he’s operating for Texas lawyer normal

Lee Merritt, a civil rights attorney who has represented several families of North Texas blacks killed by police officers, said in a video posted on Twitter that he is running for attorney general.

He brought the idea to the market during a Friday protest at the Collin County courthouse in response to the death of Marvin David Scott III in custody. Merritt, representing the Scott family, told a reporter he was considering standing up against current Attorney General Ken Paxton.

“I accidentally announced yesterday that I wanted to run for Texas attorney general,” Merritt said on the video. “I plan to run.”

In addition to the Scott case, Merritt has represented several families of murdered black men and women in North Texas, including Atatiana Jefferson, who was killed by a Fort Worth officer while standing in her own home. Darius Tarver, who was shot and killed by Denton police while swinging a pan; Jordan Edwards killed by a Balch Springs officer firing at a moving vehicle of teenagers leaving a party; and Botham Jean, who was killed in his own apartment by an off duty Dallas cop. Merritt also represents the family of Ahmaud Aubrey, who was killed by three white men while jogging in rural Georgia.

He’s also had some public missteps, including a 2018 portrayal of a woman whose allegations of sexual assault by state forces were proven to be fabricated when body camera footage did not reveal such an incident. Merritt apologized for drawing national attention to the false claims.

“It is deeply worrying when innocent parties are falsely accused, and I am really sorry that those allegations got Officer Hubbard and his family into trouble,” Merritt said in a statement at the time. “I take full responsibility for extending these claims to the point of national concern.”

Merritt lives in McKinney, just like Paxton. Paxton’s tenure has been marred by state and federal investigations into corruption and abuse of public office. In a 2015 case that has not yet been heard, he is charged with fraud in securities. He is also being investigated by the FBI for abuse of office and bribery.

On Merritt’s Twitter video, he said Paxton was not doing enough to train police and mental health services for crisis victims. He has said that both Scott and Tarver died during a mental crisis.

“It’s clear [Paxton] I don’t want to do his job so I decided to take him, ”Merritt said on the video. “I’ll announce later.”

It’s unclear whether Merritt officially plans to face Paxton.

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