Family seeking answers after 26-year-old Texas man dies in custody
Editor's note: Seven officers have been fired over David Scott III's death in police custody. Read the latest update here.
On Sunday evening, 26-year-old Marvin David Scott III was arrested for possession of less than two ounces of marijuana and transferred to a Texas detention facility. After he exhibited what the county's sheriff described Friday as "strange behavior," officials pepper sprayed him and put a spit mask on his face. Soon after, he was dead.
"The family has still many questions about how all this happened. The community also has many questions. As do I," Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner said Friday.
It's not yet clear what happened at the Collin County detention facility, where Scott was taken at approximately 6:22 p.m following his arrest. Skinner said at a Friday press conference that at some point after arriving, Scott began exhibiting "strange behavior" in the booking area. Skinner did not explain what he meant by "strange behavior" or provide further explanation of Scott's actions.
As a result of the behavior, several officers fought to secure Scott to a restraint bed, Skinner said. Officers deployed pepper spray once and placed a spit mask — a covering with netting fabric designed to prevent a person from spitting on officers — on Scott's face, Skinner added.
At 10:22 p.m., while being placed on the restraint bed, Scott became unresponsive, Skinner said. He did not provide further details about what happened during the four-hour period Scott was in custody.
Scott "immediately" received medical care and was transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
In compliance with state law governing in-custody deaths, Skinner said he immediately reported the case to the Texas Rangers, who will handle the criminal investigation. But Skinner said he has also launched a parallel administrative investigation to see if any department policies were violated.
"As I promised Marvin Scott's family, I intend to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into what happened," 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."
Seven officials — a captain, a lieutenant, two sergeants, and three detention officers — have been placed on administrative leave over the incident.
"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," Skinner said.
Skinner said there is video of the incident, which has been turned over to the Texas Rangers. He would not comment on the contents of the video, saying he did not want to infringe on the Rangers' investigation. The Texas Rangers confirmed they are investigating the matter, but would not comment further on the case.
Skinner also declined to comment on whether law enforcement was aware of a history of mental illness. But attorneys for Scott's family told CBS Dallas-Fort Worth that Scott was suffering from a mental health episode during the incident, and expressed outrage at the sheriff's characterization of the incident.
"The statement that [the sheriff] gave today was not thorough nor transparent," said attorney Lee Merritt.
"It wasn't just weird. It was a mental health crisis," Merritt added. "It is a huge deal to disrespect him in that way."
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