Two weeks into the investigation of the death of a Black man while in custody in a Dallas suburb, Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner announced Thursday, April 1, that seven detention officers involved in last month’s in-custody death of Marvin Scott III have been fired. Scott, 26, died while being held at the Collin County Jail in Texas on March 14 after he was arrested for having less than two ounces of marijuana. He was buried last week in his hometown of St. Louis.
“Evidence I have seen confirms that these detention officers violated well-established Sheriff’s Office policies and procedures,” Skinner said in a statement announcing the development.
The names of the seven officers — who are described only as a captain, a lieutenant, two sergeants and three officers — have not been released. An eighth officer has resigned.
Scott’s father, Marvin Scott Jr., responded to news of the officers’ termination.
“The seven have been fired, and when he said that, electricity went through my body. I was so happy,” his father told Fox4.
Each evening since’s Scott’s death, members of his family have gathered outside of the Collin County Jail demanding transparency.
“We want answers,” Scott’s mother LaSandra Scott told NBC5.
Scott was arrested by Allen Police at the Allen Outlet Mall on March 14 for being in possession of less than two ounces of marijuana, a misdemeanor offense. Because Scott was behaving erratically, police transported him to a hospital, where he remained in the emergency room for three hours.
After being cleared by a doctor, Scott was taken to police headquarters and then the Collin County Jail.
Sheriff Skinner said that after Scott began acting strangely at the jail, he was placed on a restraint bed and put in a spit hood by officers who also used pepper spray on him. Scott became unresponsive and later died. His family said he has a history of mental illness and had received a diagnosis of schizophrenia. He was known to self-medicate with marijuana when his medication was not working.
Scott’s family said the firing of the officers is a step in the right direction but believes the officers involved in his death should face charges.
“Right now, they’re fired and they’re at home, relaxing, looking for another job. So the charges mean everything,” Scott’s father said.
Lee Merritt, the attorney representing Scott’s family, said in a tweet on the day the firings were announced that what the family really wants is for the officers involved to be held “criminally responsible.”
The medical examiner’s report will be critical for determining potential charges the officers may face.
Amy Gruszecki, a forensic pathologist who performed a second autopsy on Scott said preliminary findings indicate that asphyxiation and a physical struggle against the restraints may have contributed to his death. The county’s autopsy results have not been released.
Merritt and Scott’s family are also asking that the security camera footage from the jail be released.
Officials said they don’t plan to release additional details, including the names of the fired officers, at this time. The Texas Rangers are also conducting a separate investigation of Scott’s death.