The death of Marvin David Scott III, a 26-year-old Black man who was first arrested and taken to a Texas detention facility in March and ended up dead, has been ruled a homicide.
Dr. William Rohr, the medical examiner in Collin County, said Wednesday that Scott’s death was caused by “fatal acute stress response in an individual with previously diagnosed schizophrenia during restraint struggle with law enforcement,” according to CBS News.
Rohr said his office is waiting to obtain laboratory results before releasing the final autopsy report.
As The Root previously reported, Scott was arrested by officers with the Allen Police Department on March 14, who claimed he was “acting in an erratic manner” at a local mall. From there, Scott was transported to a hospital and held in an emergency room “due to the possible ingestion of drugs.”
Scott was arrested for having less than 2 ounces of marijuana on him. This is the messed up part; it goes into the bigger conversation over marijuana legalization. But I digress. He was then transferred to a detention facility in Collin County at 6:22 p.m., according to Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner.
Here is more background, per CBS News:
Skinner said Scott began exhibiting “strange behavior” in the booking area at some point after he arrived, but did not elaborate. When several officers struggled to secure him to a restraint bed, they deployed pepper spray once and placed a spit mask — a covering with netting fabric designed to prevent a person from spitting on officers — on his face, Skinner added.
Scott became unresponsive while being placed on the restraint bed at approximately 10:22 p.m., Skinner said, adding that he “immediately” received care but was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Skinner did not provide additional detail about the four-hour period Scott was in custody or the specific circumstances that led to his death. But in early April, he fired seven officers who he said “violated well-established Sheriff’s Office policies and procedures” when handling Scott, and an eighth officer under investigation resigned.
“Everyone in Collin County deserves safe and fair treatment, including those in custody at our jail. I will not tolerate less,” Skinner said when announcing the firings. Six of the officers appealed their termination and one has since been reinstated, according to CBS Dallas-Fort Worth.
That is the cops’ perspective.
Scott’s family watched nearly five hours of footage, including video of his death. Family attorney Lee Merritt said the footage showed “repeated opportunities” to provide aid to Scott, who he said “was clearly in a schizophrenic episode.”
“Instead, he received brutality,” Merritt said. “Instead, he was maced. He was assaulted, he was restrained, he was treated as someone who was being criminally non-compliant, not as someone in need of desperate help.”
The sheriff’s office had records of Scott’s mental health issues, according to Merritt. Skinner declined to comment on whether officers knew of a history of mental illness.
Scott’s mom, LaSandra, said the footage was “Horrific, inhumane,” and “very disheartening.”
Another family member shared LaSandra’s feelings.
“When I was watching this, I felt like I wanted to be there for him, but I couldn’t. It was too late,” another family member said. “And we ask for justice because at this point that’s all we can ask for.”