Seven Texas jail guards have been fired in connection with the in-custody death of a schizophrenic black man — who was restrained, pepper-sprayed and covered with a spit mask, sheriff’s officials said.
Marvin Scott III, 26, died on March 14 at the Collin County Jail, where he was in custody on misdemeanor marijuana possession charges.
“Evidence I have seen confirms that these detention officers violated well-established Sheriff’s Office policies and procedures,” Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner said in a statement announcing the terminations of the detention officers Thursday. “Everyone in Collin County deserves safe and fair treatment, including those in custody at our jail. I will not tolerate less.”
Cops first transported Scott to a hospital in Allen, where he was arrested, because an officer recognized he was likely having a mental health crisis, an attorney for his family, S. Lee Merritt, told KXAS.
Scott was treated in an emergency room for about three hours before he was released and taken to the county jail. Once in the booking area, the man whose family said he had been previously diagnosed with schizophrenia started “exhibiting some strange behavior,” Skinner reportedly said at a March 19 news conference.
That prompted several officers to strap Scott to a restraint bed and pepper-spray him. A spit hood was also put over his head about four hours after he was booked, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Scott, a resident of Frisco, was later rushed to a hospital upon becoming unresponsive, and he was pronounced dead.
The county’s medical examiner is expected to release Scott’s autopsy in coming weeks, but an independent review by a pathologist found he likely died from being restrained and asphyxiation, KXAS reported.
The seven officers who were booted included a captain, a lieutenant and two sergeants, the Dallas Morning News reported. They have not been publicly identified.
Skinner said an eighth officer has submitted his resignation.
An investigation by the Texas Rangers is ongoing, Skinner added.
Scott’s mother told the station he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia two years earlier but had not experienced a mental health crisis in a year.
“When we got him OK with his medication, he was starting to take them and fell off and felt like if he would use marijuana, it would benefit him more,” LaSandra Scott said.
Scott’s funeral was held Tuesday in St. Louis, where he grew up, WFAA reported.
“We are pleased with the decision and consider this progress, the first step of many more to come,” Scott’s family said in a statement Thursday. “Next, these former officers need to be arrested and brought to justice.”