Surveillance footage that captured the moments leading up to Marvin Scott III’s death while in custody at a Texas jail was released by officials on Friday.
The Dallas Morning News reports that the video released by the Collin County Sheriff’s Office is about 41 minutes long and has no sound. No additional footage was provided publicly by the sheriff’s office, according to the Morning News, but the Scott family’s attorney Lee Merritt said they have viewed five hours of video of the incident recorded by the jail.
Scott, 26, was arrested March 14 in Allen, Texas for possessing a small amount of cannabis. The Texas Tribune reported in April that Scott’s family said he sometimes used the drug to self-medicate after being previously diagnosed with schizophrenia. Police initially took him to a hospital before later booking him in the Collin County Jail. While at the jail, officers used pepper spray and a spit hood while trying to restrain Scott after he reportedly began acting erratically.
He lost consciousness during the struggle and was pronounced dead soon after.
From the Morning News:
The footage begins with Scott and a jailer appearing to speak to each other through a door in a holding area. It is time-stamped 10:04 p.m., although it is unclear whether that time is accurate.
After Scott places one of his arms through a slot in the door, additional jailers enter the room and they open the door, which Scott continues to hold onto while sitting on the floor.
More jailers come into the room, and they pull Scott — who appears to be speaking — away from the door and walk him into an adjoining room. The video switches to a camera inside that room, where a blue restraint bed is on the floor.
According to the Morning News, the video continued to show the correctional officers pull Scott onto the restraint bed. One of them pointed a canister of pepper spray at his face. Scott was calm as they worked to strap down his legs, but appeared to struggle when they pulled him down to lie on his back. His head hung off the edge of the bed. One officer grabbed the sides of his face while another is handed a spit hood from outside of the room.
The Morning News continues:
The jailer positioned behind Scott’s head places the spit hood over his head about four and a half minutes into the footage, just as Scott attempts to sit up and is then pulled back down by the jailers.
In the minutes that follow, Scott lies calmly as multiple jailers continue to work with the bed’s straps. Some jailers occasionally leave or enter the room; there are generally between four and six in the room with Scott.
Scott attempts to sit up several times, and he wiggles his feet. About 10 minutes into the footage he kicks wildly, sending his sandals flying. His shirt gets pulled up slightly, exposing his stomach.
Eventually Scott’s arms are restrained at about a 45-degree angle from his body. The jailers continue to work with the straps on the sides of the bed, and Scott tries to sit up several more times.
The newspaper reports that several of the officers appeared to use their knees to put weight on Scott and keep him on the bed. Eighteen minutes into the video, Scott’s chest appears to heave. He became motionless soon after, and officers started pumping his chest. Medical personnel later took over and hooked him onto an automated CPR machine and rolled him out of the room.
Scott was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The Collin County medical examiner ruled his death a homicide in April, and the cause was determined as “fatal acute stress response in an individual with previously diagnosed schizophrenia” during the struggle with the officers.
NBC News reports that the sheriff’s office previously said Scott was restrained because he exhibited “strange behavior.” Attorney Merritt said Scott was having a mental health episode. As a result, the Morning News reports, the sheriff’s office recently released a list of changes that it will undergo to improve how its officers handle mentally ill and intellectually disabled people.
As for the officers involved in the incident leading to Scott’s death, seven of them were fired in April while an eighth resigned. However, one of the officers successfully appealed his termination and was eventually reinstated.