McKINNEY, Texas (AP) — The death of a Black man while struggling with detention officers at a Texas jail during what his family members say probably was a mental health crisis has been ruled a homicide.
Marvin Scott III died last month after he was jailed in Collin County on a marijuana possession charge. Seven jailers were fired and one resigned, and Scott’s family is calling for their arrests after viewing video from inside the jail of Scott’s last moments.
”What we’ve seen today is horrific, inhumane, very disheartening, and we want these individuals arrested immediately,” said Scott’s mother, LaSandra Scott.
Scott, 26, died of “fatal acute stress response in an individual with previously diagnosed schizophrenia during restraint struggle with law enforcement,” the Collin County Medical Examiner’s Office said Wednesday.
A spokesman for the Collin County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on the possibility of arrests because the Texas Rangers are conducting a criminal investigation, the Dallas Morning News reported.
The Texas Rangers said in a statement that it is still an ongoing investigation, and they cannot release further details at this time.
A spokesman for the Collin County district attorney’s office said the office doesn’t comment on pending cases.
The video, which did not have audio, lasted about five hours and showed Scott “rapidly deteriorating,” said civil rights lawyer Lee Merritt, who is representing Scott’s family. The video hasn’t been made public. The family watched it with Collin County prosecutors, the newspaper reported.
One of the fired jailers has been reinstated through the civil services process, which Sheriff Jim Skinner has said he disagreed with.
“Sheriff Skinner from the start has said that this is an incredible tragedy, and he continues to stand by that today,” Capt. Nick Bristow said.
Scott was arrested March 14 at an outlet mall in Allen on a charge of possessing less than two ounces of marijuana, authorities have said. Allen officers took Scott to a hospital because he was reportedly acting erratically. He was released and police took him to the county jail.
While at the jail, Scott began to exhibit “some strange behavior,” Skinner said at a March 19 news conference. Detention officers placed Scott on a restraint bed, used pepper spray and covered his face with a spit mask. Scott became unresponsive at some point and later was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The jailers’ names have not been released, but Zach Horn, an attorney representing six of them, said the medical examiner’s report concluded that they did nothing wrong.
“Today’s press release from the Collin County medical examiner confirms there is no evidence that any of my clients committed any misconduct,” Horn said Wednesday. “Facts, evidence and the law will dictate the outcome of this matter, not false accusations.”