Collin County

Scott's Family Wants Answers After In-Custody Death at Collin County Jail

Marvin Scott III died while in custody at the Collin County jail.; his family continues to plead for answers and ordered an independent autopsy

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During a press conference in the lobby of the Collin County courthouse, the family of 26-year-old Marvin D. Scott III made it clear they want answers as to how their son died while in custody at the Collin County jail.

"We want to know, how did my son die? We want answers!" said Marvin's mother, LaSandra Scott, during the news conference with her family behind her.

During a press conference in the lobby of the Collin County courthouse, the family of 26-year-old Marvin D. Scott III made it clear they want answers as to how their son died while in custody at the Collin County jail.

The family's attorney Lee Merritt said they hired a forensic pathologist to conduct an independent autopsy to investigate for themselves what happened.

Dr. Amy Gruszecki, a forensic pathologist with American Forensics in Mesquite which conducts autopsies for 30 counties and independent examinations, performed the second autopsy.

She said, based off of her experience, the first exam conducted by the Collin County medical examiner was, "thorough, it was as how I would have done it."

Gruszecki said she observed one bruise on Scott's left arm and a mild heart enlargement.

Scott was restrained while in jail, and Gruszecki's preliminary reports suggest it could have played a role in his death.

"The investigation and history that is available to me so far is that he was restrained and had a spit hood on his head, so the physical struggle of the restraint as well as the possible asphyxia from the restraint would likely be causes of his death and a negative autopsy, meaning no injuries, no blunt force trauma is consistent with that," explained Gruszecki.

She said all of this would be considered once the report is final. Gruszecki also said she's ordered a toxicology report, which could take weeks.

She said Scott's hyoid bone, which is in the neck area, had been removed which Gruszecki said is not unusual for primary autopsies, and she has done the same in the past to save it for evidence.

The Arrest

Officers from the Allen Police Department arrested Scott on March 14 for possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana, Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner confirmed in a news conference last week.

Merritt said a security officer noticed the scent of marijuana while Scott was at the Allen Premium Outlets. He was also having what appeared to be a mental health crisis.

Scott's mother said her son was diagnosed with schizophrenia two years ago, but hadn't had an episode in about a year.

"When we got him okay with his medication, he was starting to take them and fell off and felt like if he would use marijuana, it would benefit him more," said LaSandra Scott who said her son had been doing well for a year.

Merritt said an Allen officer recognized Scott was experiencing a mental health issue and took him to a hospital, but said in previous interactions with police, Scott was taken to a mental health facility.

Scott was later released to the Collin County jail, something his family continues to question.

"Why, why, why was he given medical clearance?" asked Scott's mother.

While in custody at the Collin County Jail, the sheriff said Scott appeared to, "exhibit some strange behavior," which prompted detention officers to secure him onto a restraint bed. The county said officers used pepper spray and attached a spit mask on Scott's face.

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

Merritt said there is video of what happened, they haven't seen it yet, but the family described what they were told.

"He was placed in a restraint chair for 11 minutes, then moved to a restraint bed after being sprayed with mace, a knee was placed on his arm, and a pressure point tactic was preformed under his chin," explained his mother. "There were reports of Marvin having highs and lows related to strange behaviors, that's to be expected with schizophrenia."

Scott's family wants to see the video and wants to know if life-saving interventions took place before EMS arrived. They want to know what time an ambulance was called, if officers who handled Scott had mental health training, or if there was a health specialist on hand.

Skinner didn't comment on whether detention officers knew Scott’s history of mental illness but said that will be part of the investigation. The sheriff also said there are protocols that they follow when it comes to mental health response but he did not elaborate.

The family is asking for the seven detention employees who are currently suspended on administrative leave to be arrested.

“When we spoke with the district attorney the other day he explained he would need a cause of death and medical examiner's report in order to issue a warrant for the arrest," said Merritt.

The family said they're just most upset with the process and claim they received a text message about Scott's death the day after.

Scott was living with his father at the time. Merritt said his father was upset that he didn't receive a phone call about his son's arrest and said he believes he could have explained his son's condition to authorities.

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