The Collin County Sheriff’s office in Texas has released 41 minutes of jail security video showing the in-custody death of Marvin Scott III that occurred on March 14.
The sheriff’s office said it was releasing the video because Sheriff Jim Skinner had promised Scott’s family there would be transparency regarding the investigation and facts surrounding his death.
Scott died while in custody at the Collin County Detention Center after being placed on a restraint bed, pepper-sprayed, and having a spit mask put on his face. Seven detention officers were fired and one resigned following Scott’s death.
What the video shows
The video shows Scott being moved from a holding cell to a room where he is tied down on a restraint bed. Initially, he appears to speak to the officers as he struggles to sit up. Within four minutes of being placed on the restraint bed, one of the officers sprays Scott’s face with pepper spray, while another officer holds his head down and then places a spit mask over Scott’s head.
As the video progresses, he struggles less often and becomes listless. About 14 minutes after Scott was pepper-sprayed, officers perform a sternum rub and pull down the spit hood before medical personnel enters the room. One officer begins CPR and another medical personnel file in.
Near the end of the video, Scott is placed on a gurney and removed from the room.
The video is silent because “the facility’s camera system is incapable of recording sound,” according to the sheriff’s office. The faces of the officers were intentionally blurred by the Sheriff’s Office prior to the distribution of the video “because of additional pending and anticipated legal proceedings.”
What Scott’s family said about the video
At a press conference on Monday, the attorney representing the Scott family, Lee Merritt, said that he is thankful to Skinner for fulfilling a promise he made to the family and releasing the video as soon as he legally could, but he wishes it could have been sooner.
“We wanted to see this video out in the public’s hands much sooner, preferably prior to presentation to the grand jury. But we know that this was the soonest possible time that Chief Skinner’s office was permitted under the laws of the state of Texas to release the video, and he kept his word,” Merritt said.
“And it’s really important to this family because we believe that by the public having had a chance to review this video, for our experts, now, as we prepare for our civil rights claim, to have a chance to review the evidence and compare it to the statutes, both in the state of Texas, and the federal statutes, specifically the Americans with Disabilities Act, the ADA, which we believe was clearly violated in Marvin’s handling and ultimately his death,”Merritt said.
Scott’s mother, La Sandra Scott, said that the release of the video “brings awareness that how, how people are treated as citizens. Even a dog couldn’t survive the brutality that went on, on that faulty bed, pepper spray, spit hood on you.”
“He was killed. He was actually killed. He was killed. And nobody is being held accountable, unacceptable,” she told reporters.
The Collin County medical examiner ruled Scott’s death a homicide. A grand jury declined in June to indict the eight detention officers involved in the incident.
Scott was arrested at an outlet mall in the city of Allen, just north of Dallas, for possession of less than two ounces of marijuana, Skinner said at a press conference in late March.
Zach Horn, the attorney who represented the officers during the grand jury proceedings, has not yet responded to CNN’s request for comment. At the time of the grand jury’s decision, attorney Horn said he was “thankful that the Collin County Grand Jury put in the time and effort to evaluate this case on facts, evidence, and the law instead of Twitter hashtags and Facebook gossip,” and that he would seek reinstatement for the officers who were “interested in returning to public service.”
The Collin County District Attorney’s Office also has not yet responded to requests for comment.
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