The family of Marvin David Scott III, a 26-year-old Texas man who died in police custody, are urging for the involved officers to face harsher disciplinary action than being placed on administrative leave.
Scott’s family claims his untimely death was a result of excessive force, where seven officers restrained Scott while employing pepper spray and a spit hood. In response, seven involved officers have been placed on leave.
The Texas Rangers and the Collin County Sherriff’s Department have launched separate investigations into the matter.
Last week members of the Allen Police Department arrested Scott at an outlet mall for possession of marijuana.
Scott was arrested after concerned family members say they called for help during a mental health crisis. His family contends he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was prescribed medicine for treatment. Prior to the most recent incidence, his family said he has not had an episode in at least a year.
Scott was taken to a nearby hospital, but was eventually released and booked in the Collin County jail around 6:22 p.m. Officers say they observed Scott exhibiting “strange behavior” in the booking area and was eventually strapped to a bed. While officers attempted to restrain him, Scott broke free, prompting officers to use pepper spray and cover his head with a spit hood around 10:22 p.m. He eventually became unresponsive and was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Civil rights attorney S. Lee Merritt represents Scott’s family and backs their call for transparency. He claims that officers made a series of abuses, including kneeling on Scott to keep him from moving, and using a technique where one officer shoved his finger into a pressure point beneath Scott’s jaw, pushing his head upward.
“Kneeling on someone until they stop moving is something that, foreseeably, could lead to their death,” Merritt told The Dallas Morning News.
“They still couldn’t silence him, and so they pepper-sprayed him,” Merritt said, noting that Scott suffered from asthma. “Your natural response to being pepper-sprayed is to spit.”
Merritt says that because of Scott’s past arrests due to his mental health condition, he should have been medically treated.
On Friday Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner held a news conference where he confirmed a majority of Merritt’s account.
“The family is upset. The community is upset. I’m upset,” Skinner said. “The death of this young man is a profound tragedy, and we have an obligation to uncover the full and complete truth … and that’s exactly what the Texas Rangers and my internal affairs investigators are doing at this moment.”
Skinner says that video footage related to Scott’s death exists, but will not be made available to the family until after the investigation. There is no official timing on how long that could take, but it’s estimated it can take up to three months.
Scott’s family says they were not made aware of the news conference, which triggered their emotions over transparency.
The family claims they were not made aware of Skinner’s Friday news conference and were turned away when they attempted to attend. Prior to that, they claim they were informed of Scott’s death via a text message from the medical examiner.
Earlier this week community members held a candlelight vigil in honor of Scott and the tragedy that ensued.
“He was a gentle giant. He would do anything for anybody,” said his older sister LaChay Batts. “Y’all really took away a good person — a really good person. He was amazing. I’m honored to be his sister.”
Scott’s father, Marvin Scott Jr., has launched a GoFundMe to offset expenses for his son’s funeral. To date supporters have donated over $40,000, surpassing the initial goal of $15,000.
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