Collin County

Collin County Sheriff, Texas Rangers Investigating In-Custody Death of 26-Year-Old Man

Family's attorney says Marvin Scott III was having a mental crisis and was arrested for possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana

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Texas Rangers are investigating the death of a 26-year-old man at a Collin County jail on Sunday.

According to a statement from the Collin County Sheriff's Office, Marvin D. Scott III died while in custody at the Collin County Detention Facility.

The family's attorney claims the initial arrest was "inappropriate" and said the man was experiencing a mental health crisis at the time of his arrest.

Officers from the Allen Police Department arrested Scott earlier that day for possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana, Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner confirmed in a news conference Friday.

Family attorney Lee Merritt said officers transported Scott to a hospital instead of the mental facility he'd been sent to on previous interactions with police. Merritt says Scott was taken from the hospital to jail.

While in custody, Scott "exhibit some strange behavior," Skinner said, prompting detention officers to secure him onto a restraint bed. Officers used pepper spray and attached a spit mask on Scott's face, Skinner said.

Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner addresses the investigation into the in-custody death of 26-year-old Marvin D. Scott III Friday morning, with additional remarks provided by Xavier Maryland, pastor of One Community Church.

Scott became unresponsive shortly after 10 p.m., Skinner said. He was taken to a hospital by paramedics where he was pronounced dead.

Skinner called the incident "a tragedy" his office will be investigating "parallel and staggered" to the Texas Rangers investigation.

"What's needed now is patience," Skinner said. "I'm not here to make excuses for anyone. People are upset. Families are upset. The community is upset. I'm upset. The death of this 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."

Scott's family gathered on Friday, unaware they say, of the sheriff's press conference.

“It’s infuriating because the transparency that was promised and promised and promised and has not been transparency at all,” said Scott’s sister LaChay Batts on Friday.

“We found the initial arrest inappropriate, this was not something someone needed an arrest for, to be quite frank, Marvin was suffering a mental health crisis in a public place," Merritt said. "He needed help to a facility, they failed to do that, they took him into custody instead and in custody, he died."

Merritt said Scott was at the Allen Premium Outlets when he was arrested on Sunday.

Merritt, along with Scott's family, said he dealt with mental illness and that was diagnosed with schizophrenia years ago.

The Texas Rangers will investigate why a McKinney man died in custody at the Collin County Jail on Sunday. The Collin County Sheriff’s Office says seven jail workers are on administrative leave and an internal investigation is underway. NBC 5’s Sophia Beausoleil reports Marvin Scott’s family met with several law enforcement agencies Tuesday.

"He was on medications, he had not had an episode for at least a year. In previous incidents surrounding law enforcement, they took him to a treatment facility," Merritt said.

In regards to the marijuana, Merritt claims police found an article, like a rolled joint near his client's son.

NBC 5 has requested a copy of the the arrest affidavit.

The Collin County Sheriff's Office referred the matter to the Texas Rangers, who are investigating Scott's death.

As a matter of policy, the sheriff placed seven detention employees on administrative leave and ordered an internal administrative investigation, the Collin County Sheriff's Office said.

Merritt said the actions by the detention officers trying to restrain Scott in a jail cell directly contributed to his death. He claims there is video of the incident.

"We learned at least six, possibly seven, officers in his restraint here (county jail) and at least five officers involved in his initial arrest," Merritt said. “There was ample time to evaluate him to understand this was someone in crisis who needed help and they chose not to provide help, they chose to use force instead and as a result, a valuable member of this family is gone.”

During the Friday press conference, the sheriff would not say whether the detention officers or jail staff were aware of Scott’s mental illness history, saying that is something that the Texas Rangers are looking into.

This will be an important development because there are specific protocols to follow for someone in mental distress.

The sheriff's office said that no additional information would be released until the Texas Rangers have completed their investigation.

Family

According to Scott's parents, the 26-year-old was their middle child and lived in McKinney.

"Marvin was a sweetheart he would give you the shirt off his back, he was an A student, very intelligent, loved his whole family, wouldn't hurt anybody. He was so helpful and he will truly truly be missed," his mother LaSandra Scott said.

She and her family met with Texas Rangers, Allen police and the Collin County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday.

"They were very concerned to me, that’s how it came across to me as to what caused this to happen and how did this happen," said Marvin Scott Jr., the 26-year-old's father, of the meeting with law enforcement.

He said they promised answers.

The family said they were notified by text message from the medical examiner about Scott's death.

"He died at 11:32 p.m. (Sunday) We didn’t get notified until Monday at 2:22 p.m. via text and today we’re now leaving here to get half a** answers," Scott's older sister LaChay Batts said.

"They're being partially transparent, and can only go so far, but we'll get an answer," LaSandra Scott said.

Merritt said the family planned to order their own independent autopsy. They will also plan to meet with the Collin County District Attorney.

"It’s not enough to say they made a mistake, the officers who were placed on suspension need to be criminally held, so we look forward to speaking with the DA when he returns from vacation to ensure there's a thorough criminal process," Merritt said.

Candlelight Vigil

Tuesday, dozens of family members and friends gathered for a candlelight vigil for Scott at Town Lake in McKinney off of Wilson Creek Pkwy.

Dozens gathered for a community meeting about the death of Marvin Scott who died in custody at the Collin County jail. A family attorney says actions by detention officers trying to restrain Scott in a cell directly contributed to his death.

Wednesday, a smaller crowd gathered in the same place for a community conversation hosted by Merritt who says the detention officers should be charged in connection with Scott's death.

Local pastors plan to gather at the Collin County Courthouse on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. to "stand and pray" for both the family and the community.

“It’s a time to come together a time to love on those who are hurting,” said Pastor Xavier Maryland of One Community Church. “It’s not a time to divide anybody, but to unite the entire community.”

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