Seven Texas detention officers were released after a black man died in custody who said his family may be suffering from mental health problems. An eighth officer resigned.
An internal investigation found the officers violated the department’s policies and procedures that resulted in the death of 26-year-old Marvin Scott III, Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner said in a press release Thursday.
Scott was arrested on March 14th for possession of marijuana. He exhibited “strange behavior,” Skinner said at a news conference on March 19.
Scott was transferred first to the 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, used pepper spray, and covered his face with a spit mask. He stopped responding and was later pronounced dead in another hospital.
An independent autopsy performed by American Forensics in Mesquite, Texas found Scott likely died of reluctance and suffocation, the family’s attorney Lee Merritt said in an Instagram post. He added that the final results are still pending.
The results of an official autopsy have not been published.
The family also says that Scott may have been suffering from a mental crisis. Scott had schizophrenia for which he was taking medication, family members told news outlets.
Merritt said Scott had not seen a mental health crisis in more than a year, and officials 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, March 15, the sheriff’s office announced that seven officers would be on administrative leave and the Texas Rangers would investigate the case. The Rangers have not released a statement.
“People are upset. The family is upset. The community is upset. I’m upset,” Skinner said at the March 19 press conference, according to a video posted by the Dallas Morning News. “This young man’s death is a profound tragedy and we have an obligation to uncover the full and complete truth.”
But, he said, “what is needed now is patience” as the Rangers finalize their criminal investigation.
Following news of the resignation, family attorney Lee Merritt tweeted Thursday that the family was “relieved”.
“However, they look forward to seeing these men arrested and brought to justice,” he added.
Contributor: Associated Press