Jim Skinner, sheriff of Collin County, Texas, has fired seven officers who are connected to the death of 26-year-old Marvin D. Scott III, The New York Times reported.
Scott died in the Collin County Jail last month after officers repeatedly pepper-sprayed him and restrained him in a spit hood. He had been arrested by Allen, Texas police on March 14 for having less than two ounces of marijuana on him.
He was facing only a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge.
“Although the Texas Rangers’ comprehensive criminal investigation into the death of Marvin D. Scott, III continues, I have today terminated the employment of seven detention officers involved in his tragic death and have been notified of the resignation of an eighth officer who was under investigation,” said in a statement to NBC5.
“Evidence I have seen confirms that these detention officers violated well-established Sheriff’s Office policies and procedures. Everyone in Collin County deserves safe and fair treatment, including those in custody at our jail. I will not tolerate less,” he added.
In addition to the seven officers that were fired, another has resigned, Skinner added. Police officers said that he was acting “erratically” at a local outlet mall so he was taken to a hospital for three hours and then transported to the jail, where officers abused him repeatedly before he died that night.
None of the officers have been named.
Skinner said that after he was taken from the hospital to the jail, he was allegedly showing signs of “some strange behavior” and officers decided to strap him to a bed and pepper spray him. They later put the spit hood on him, and by 10 p.m. noticed that he was unresponsive. He was later declared dead by paramedics.
“He was placed in a restraint chair for 11 minutes, then moved to a restraint bed after being sprayed with mace, a knee was placed on his arm, and a pressure point tactic was performed under his chin. There were reports of Marvin having highs and lows related to strange behaviors, that’s to be expected with schizophrenia,” LaSandra Scott, the 26-year-old’s mother, said with Merritt adding that there is a video of the incident that has not been shared or released.
A statement from the family said the firings happened just one day after they held a funeral for Marvin.
“We are pleased with this decision and consider this progress, the first step of many more to come. Next, these former officers need to be arrested and brought to justice. Our team is now looking into the possible involvement of an 8th individual and we hope to meet with the district attorney’s office soon. and we look forward to meeting with the District Attorney’s office,” the family told NBC5.
Marvin’s mother and other family members have protested outside of the Collin County Jail every day for weeks demanding more information about how the 26-year-old died, according to NBC5.
“We want to know, how did my son die? We want answers!” she said during a press conference.
She explained that he suffered from schizophrenia but had not had an episode for more than a year.
“When we got him okay 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. Why, why, why was he given medical clearance?” LaSandra asked about the hospital that let the officers take him to the jail.
“The investigation and history that is available to me so far is that he was restrained and had a spit hood on his head, so the physical struggle of the restraint as well as the possible asphyxia from the restraint would likely be causes of his death and a negative autopsy, meaning no injuries, no blunt force trauma is consistent with that,” Dr. Amy Gruszecki, a forensic pathologist with American Forensics in Mesquite that was hired by the family to do a second autopsy, said.
The family has also hired noted civil rights attorney Lee Merritt to represent them.
“They laid Marvin to rest on the 30th, just a couple days ago. The family continues to protest every night along with other members of the community,” he said.
During the press conference, the family said they were upset with how the death was handled. They were only notified of the 26-year-old’s death a day later, and his father, who he lived with, said he was never notified.
On March 15, the country jail released a statement about Marvin’s death, noting that seven officers had been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.
The Texas Rangers are also investigating the incident, according to The New York Times.