Seven detention officers in Texas were fired after a Black man died in custody whose family say may have been experiencing a mental health crisis. An eighth officer resigned.
An internal investigation found that the officers violated department policies and procedures leading to the death of 26-year-old Marvin Scott III, Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner said in a news release Thursday.
Scott was arrested March 14 on marijuana possession charges. He was showing “some strange behavior,” Skinner said at a March 19 news conference, according to news outlets.
Scott was first taken to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Allen, Texas, and then to the Collin County jail, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Officers put Scott on a restraint bed, and they used pepper spray and covered his face with a spit mask. He became unresponsive and was later pronounced dead at a different hospital.
An independent autopsy performed by American Forensics in Mesquite, Texas, found that Scott likely died of restraint and asphyxiation, said Lee Merritt, the family’s attorney, in an Instagram post. He added that final results are pending.
The results of an official autopsy have not been released.
The family also says Scott may have been suffering a mental health crisis. Scott had schizophrenia, which he was taking medication for,his mother, LaSandra Scott, told news outlets.
Merritt said Scott hadn’t experienced a mental health crisis in more than a year and the officers should have taken him to a mental health clinic as they did after his previous arrests in Collin County, the Dallas Morning News reported.
The day after Scott’s death, on March 15, the sheriff’s office announced that seven officers were being placed on administrative leave and the Texas Rangers would be investigating the case. The Rangers have not released a statement.
“People are upset. They family’s upset. The community is upset. I’m upset,” Skinner said at the March 19 news conference, according to a video posted by the Dallas Morning News. “The death of this young man is a profound tragedy and we have an obligation to uncover the full and complete truth.”
But, he said, “what’s needed now is patience” as the Rangers complete the criminal investigation.
Following news of the termination,Merritt tweeted Thursday that the family is “relieved.”
“However they are anxious to see these men arrested and held criminally accountable,” he added.
Contributing: Associated Press