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7 Texas Officers Fired After Death in Custody

Black man arrested for pot misdemeanor died after being restrained
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2021 9:43 AM CDT

(Newser) – On March 14, a 26-year-old Black man with a history of mental illness was arrested on a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge in Allen, Texas. He died after he was taken to the county jail, where he was restrained, pepper-sprayed, and had a "spit hood" placed over his head. Seven detention officers at the Collin County Jail have now been fired and an eighth resigned during the investigation of the death of Marvin D. Scott III, the Dallas Morning News reports. "Evidence I have seen confirms that these detention officers violated well-established Sheriff’s Office policies and procedures," Sheriff Jim Skinner said in a statement. He said the Texas Rangers' "comprehensive criminal investigation" is ongoing. A forensic pathologist said Thursday that asphyxiation may have contributed to Scott's death.

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Police say Scott was taken to a hospital after his arrest because he had been behaving erratically. He was brought to the county jail hours later and restrained, the New York Times reports, and he died that night. Family members—who say they were notified of Scott's death via a text from the medical examiner the next day—have been protesting outside the jail every night for two weeks, demanding more transparency in the case. Lee Merritt, a lawyer for the family, says Scott was arrested after officers found him sitting next to a joint. He says Scott had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was probably having a mental health crisis at the time of his arrest, the Morning News reports. He says he believes that Scott was treated like a criminal instead of a person in crisis because he was a Black man. (Read more police custody stories.)

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