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'Something is wrong with the system': Marvin Scott's family renews calls for justice, accountability following release of jail video

His family had been pushing for the release of the surveillance video. They are demanding accountability and will discuss the next steps.

MCKINNEY, Texas — Updated at 3:45 p.m. following the family's news conference.

The family of Marvin Scott III renewed their calls for justice and accountability in his death after surveillance footage was released to the public Friday showing his last moments at the Collin County jail.

Scott's family had been pushing for the release of the surveillance video for months. During the afternoon news conference, they demanded accountability, justice and discussed that the next steps are taking the case to a federal level.

Scott died on March 14 in custody at the age of 26. On Friday, the Collin County Sheriff's Department released 40 minutes of surveillance video from inside the county jail. It shows the events leading up to his death. A Collin County grand jury cleared the officers in relation to Scott's death.

"He was killed, he was killed and nobody is being held accountable," Scott's mother LaSandra Scott said at the news conference. "So they want to do him as a case study, like ‘Ok you guys get to go home to you family, don’t worry about it. We got this covered.’ No, he was killed, he walked in alive and he left dead, killed."

His death came hours after his arrest at the Allen outlet mall after security personnel reported the smell of marijuana. Scott was taken into custody for alleged possession of marijuana under 2 ounces, a class B misdemeanor.

“There were thousands of opportunities to save Marvin’s life here,” lawyer Lee Merritt said at the news conference.

He added that the Allen Police Department and the hospital where Marvin was taken should be held accountable "for someone who was in clear accuse distress," Merritt said.  

According to Scott's family, he suffered from schizophrenia and said law enforcement was aware of that based on his past arrests.

Initially, Scott was taken to Texas Health Presbyterian in Allen because he was incoherent when officers approached him, Merritt told WFAA. He spent three hours at the hospital before a doctor signed off that Scott was "fit to be incarcerated."

"The governor has said we are in a mental health crisis," Merritt said at the news conference. "If there's another solution for these kinds of encounters than law enforcement. He could have been taken to a mental health treatment facility."

Scott was transported back to the county jail around 6 p.m., officials said. While in the jail's booking lobby, Scott exhibited "strange behavior" and was restrained by detention officers, said Skinner. Scott died around 10:30 p.m.

“Instead of being met with compassion or a mental health professional, he was met with hostility,” Merritt said. He said the most egregious part was that “Marvin Scott was punished for being in a mental health crisis.” 

A grand jury cleared the eight detention officers in connection to Marvin Scott's death. The grand jury recommended convening a workgroup to study what led to Scott's death to try to avoid future incidents.

LaSandra Scott said at the news conference that she was very disappointed with how the grand jury came to their conclusion and said she believes the full evidence may not have been presented to them. 

“He was smothered to death, he suffered. It is unacceptable,” LaSandra said. “When the jury does not see that a crime was committed, something is wrong with the system. My son was killed by these individuals. He was killed brutally.” 

Merritt said that the case is being looked at by a federal level by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI. Merritt said he and the family believes that there is still criminal accountability for the officers involved. 

“For these individuals to go home to their family after we did Easter, Mother’s Day, 4th of July [without Marvin], they get to go home to their families," LaSandra said. "They get to sit back and say ‘we made it, nothing is gonna happen."

Seven of the officers were placed on leave then fired on April 1 by Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner. An eighth officer, who was under investigation, resigned.

One of those officers was reinstated after successfully appealing his termination. At the time, Skinner said he disagreed with that decision.

Video released

The video begins with one officer approaching Scott's cell. There appears to be a brief conversation between Scott and the officer before the cell door is opened and Scott comes out. His arm is seen wrapped around a slot in the cell door. There is a brief struggle outside the cell and four officers then escort Scott into another room that contains a restraint bed.   

The videos do not have audio because the "facility’s camera system is incapable of recording sound," according to a statement from the sheriff's office. The lack of audio prevents us from providing full context as to what occurred. 

Once Scott is in the room, he is laid down on the restraint bed and six officers attempt to strap down his lower body, the video shows. It appears Scott is saying something to officers but without audio we can't know for sure. 

RELATED: Collin County Sheriff's Office releases jail video of events leading up to Marvin Scott's in-custody death

Four minutes into the video the detention officers struggle with Scott on the bed. An officer sprays him with mace inches from his face. Another officer puts a spit hood over Scott's head. The hood is a piece of breathable fabric commonly used by officers to prevent someone from spitting or biting. 

Scott tries to get up from the bed several times but officers force him back down. The video shows one officer has a knee to Scott's side. Meanwhile, officers can be seen placing restraints on Scott's upper body. 

It takes officers more than 20 minutes to apply restraints on Scott. At one point Scott's legs start flapping and he attempts to lift his head, the video shows. 

Nineteen minutes into the video, officers are in a frenzy and Scott appears motionless. Officers remove the restraints and begin doing chest compressions. They would do chest compressions for 13 straight minutes. 

At one point the video shows 14 people in the room with Marvin Scott, including detention officers and medical personnel in blue scrubs.  

Thirty-three minutes into the video an automatic chest compressor is installed and is used for more than six minutes. The compressor sits over Scott's chest and provides repeated compressions automatically. Scott is ultimately transferred to a gurney and rushed out of the room. 

Sheriff Jim Skinner said he would not be providing any comment because of pending civil service commission hearings set for September. The hearings are an avenue for the detention officers to get their jobs back. 

The office of the Collin County Medical Examiner released its findings and called Scott's death a homicide.

Dr. William Rohr says Scott's cause of death was "fatal acute stress response in an individual with previously diagnosed schizophrenia during restraint struggle with law enforcement," the release said.

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