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Texas Sheriff Calls In-Custody Death Of Marvin Scott A Tragedy & Asks For Patience While Investigations Are Completed

COLLIN COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) — There have been calls for the arrest and prosecution of law enforcement and detention workers after a Collin County man, arrested for possession of less than two ounces of marijuana, died while in custody. Today the Sheriff called the 26-year-old's death a "tragedy" and detailed what he can and cannot do under the law, while promising to make "the right, not rushed, decision" when the investigations are complete.

Marvin Scott -- Marvin David Scott III
(credit: Collin County Jail)

It was on March 14 when officers with the Allen Police Department arrested Marvin David Scott III outside of the Allen Premium Outlets mall and took him to the Collin County Jail. Recounting the events during a morning press conference Sheriff Jim Skinner said, "While in the booking-area Mr. Scott exhibited some strange behavior. Several detention officers tried to secure him to a restraint bed and during the process used OC [pepper] spray once and also placed a spit mask on his face."

Scott arrived at the jail just before 6:30 p.m. and it was about four hours later when something went wrong. Sheriff Skinner said, "At around 10:22 p.m., while being placed on the restraint bed, Mr. Scott became non-responsive. Detention officers and nursing staff immediately provided emergency medical attention and called an ambulance."

Marvin Scott was pronounced dead at Baylor Scott & White McKinney.

Sheriff Skinner said state law requires that an agency, other than his own, investigate the in-custody death, so he contacted the Texas Rangers. The day after Scott's death he placed a captain, a lieutenant, two sergeants, and three detention officers on administrative leave and started a parallel investigation. While the Ranges are in charge of the criminal investigation, Collin County Sheriff's are looking to see if any office policies were violated.

"As I promised Marvin Scott's family, I intend to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into what happened," Sheriff Skinner said. "I've made the commitment to Marvin Scott's family that at the appropriate time I will provide all of the facts related to this investigation to them."

The Sheriff then asked everyone to be patient. "I'm not here to make excuses for anyone. People are upset. The family's upset. The community is upset. I'm upset. The death of this young man is a profound tragedy, and we have an obligation to uncover the full and complete truth -- firm, concrete and factual information and that's exactly what the Texas Rangers and my internal affairs investigators are doing at this moment."

Attorneys for the Scott family say the 26-year-old was having a mental health episode and that law enforcement did not handle the situation properly.

"The statement that [the sheriff] gave today was not thorough nor transparent," attorney Lee Merritt said.

"It wasn't just weird. It was a mental health crisis," Merritt added. "It is a huge deal to disrespect him in that way."

Funeral services for Scott are pending and Sheriff Skinner asked that the public be prayerful for the family and "give them the respect and dignity that they deserve."

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