Seven detention officers have been fired and one has resigned following the March 14 in-custody death of 26-year-old Marvin Scott III.
Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner announced the move, further announcing that an eighth officer had resigned while under investigation. The names of the officers have not been released.
“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 said.
The seven detention officers were placed on administrative leave as a “matter of policy,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a March 15 statement announcing the death of Scott. His arrest and death attracted a series of protests and nationwide criticism from civil rights activists.
Scott’s family’s attorney, civil rights lawyer S. Lee Merritt, said on Twitter on Thursday that while his bereaved family “is relieved these men have been terminated,” they are nonetheless “anxious to see these men arrested and held criminally accountable.”
The Collin County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the oldest civil rights organization in the United States, also called for charges to be filed against the terminated officers, saying on Facebook, “We now await the report from Texas Rangers and expect the Collin County District Attorney to file charges against those responsible for his death.”
Scott was arrested in Allen on March 14 for possession of less than two ounces of marijuana, a Class B misdemeanor. Before being processed at the Collin County Jail, Scott was reportedly taken to an Allen hospital, where he was promptly discharged after approximately three hours.
Skinner said that Scott “exhibit[ed] some strange behavior” while in custody, for which officers pinned him down on a restraint bed, maced him and fastened a spit mask on his face. After being unresponsive, he was rushed to Baylor Scott & White in McKinney, where he was pronounced dead.
Results of an autopsy and toxicology report by the Collin County Medical Examiner’s Office are currently pending, but Merritt and Scott’s family commissioned an independent autopsy from Mesquite-based American Forensics. Forensic pathologist Dr. Amy Gruszcki said in a press conference that restraint and asphyxiation were likely causes of death.