A Polk County jury has found 55 year old Derrie Derwin Scott of Willis guilty of the first degree felony offense of Attempted Capital Murder of a Police Officer and assessed a maximum sentence of life in prison with a $10,000 fine. The verdicts followed five days of testimony in the 411th District Court and related to an August 23, 2016 shooting incident involving Corrigan Police Officer Austin McCracken following an early morning traffic stop of Scott on U.S. Highway 287, east of downtown Corrigan. Evidence presented by Polk County District Attorney Lee Hon and Assistant D.A. Tommy Coleman established that at approximately 3:20 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, McCracken stopped a 2000 model Jeep Cherokee with paper dealer tags traveling 77 mph eastbound in a 55 mph speed zone. As McCracken approached the vehicle and attempted to identify the driver, Scott exited the driver’s door and began shooting toward McCracken with what was believed to be a .38 caliber revolver. After an exchange of gunfire at close range, Scott managed to flee in his vehicle unharmed. McCracken, likewise, was not struck. A three-week manhunt thereafter ensued involving multiple law enforcement agencies including the Texas Rangers and United States Marshals. On September 14, 2016, with the assistance of cell phone surveillance, Scott was located living in Willis in a pop up camper and was armed with an AK-47 assault rifle, a 12 gauge sawed off shotgun, and two semi-automatic handguns—all of which were loaded and chambered. Scott was arrested without incident.
During trial, prosecutors presented detailed evidence regarding Scott’s connection to the vehicle involved in the shooting which had been later located on wooded property belonging to Scott’s family in eastern Trinity County with multiple bullet holes. The vehicle had been registered multiple times during relevant time periods with temporary dealer tags issued from a used car dealership in Houston which Scott had connections to. At the time of his arrest, Scott was also discovered in possession of clothing and other evidentiary items captured on McCracken’s patrol car and body video cameras at the time of the shooting. Cell tower data analyzed by analysts with the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab also placed Scott in the area of the shooting at relevant times. Shortly after the shooting incident, McCracken positively identified Scott from a DPS photo lineup which had been prepared at the request of Texas Ranger Ryan Clendenen.
At the time of the shooting, evidence showed that Scott had nine active arrest warrants issued out of Angelina County ranging from Evading Arrest with a Vehicle to narcotics violations. Scott had also previously served three previous prison sentences for Robbery, Retaliation and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Felon. In a 2013 conversation with Lufkin P.D. Officer Renee Cutler, Scott had stated that he was “an old Black Panther and career criminal.” He threatened that “he knew that if he messed up again that he would go back to prison for life and that the police would have to shoot him.” He stated that he “was not afraid to die.”
In his closing argument to the jury at punishment, Hon implored the jury to give Scott “what he asked for” and to do everything it could to protect Polk County police officers. The jury deliberated approximately 50 minutes before returning the maximum sentence allowed by law. Scott will have to serve at least 30 years of the sentence before becoming eligible for parole consideration.
After the verdict, Hon extended appreciation to Texas Rangers Ryan Clendenen, Steve Rayburn and Travis Brazell for their exemplary efforts in the investigation of the case, and a special acknowledgement to Austin McCracken, now a Polk County Deputy Sheriff, for his heroic actions under fire and in the line of duty.