While in police custody at a local county jail last month, police pepper-sprayed and restrained Scott and placed a spit mask over his head, according to CBS News. Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner said the seven officers “violated well-established Sheriff’s Office policies and procedures” while Scott was under their supervision. He was later found to be unresponsive and pronounced dead at a hospital.
“Evidence I have seen confirms that these detention officers violated well-established Sheriff’s Office policies and procedures,” Skinner said in a statement. “Everyone in Collin County deserves safe and fair treatment, including those in custody at our jail. I will not tolerate less.” An eighth police officer who was also being investigated ended up resigning as well.
It’s still uncertain how Scott died. The police were called to an outlet mall on March 14 and said in a statement that Scott was “acting in an erratic manner.” Officers were worried about his safety “due to the possible ingestion of drugs,” so he was taken to an emergency room, where he stayed for three hours.
He was later transferred to a detention facility in Collin County, arriving at 6:22 p.m., after having been arrested for having less than two ounces of weed. Police say he was displaying “strange behavior,” though Skinner didn’t describe what that meant during the March 19 news briefing. Officers tried to tie Scott to a restraint bed, ultimately using pepper spray and a spit mask to do so. Scott was discovered to be unresponsive at 10:22 p.m. and “immediately” received medical care, before being pronounced dead.
Seven officers were previously placed on administrative leave in connection to Scott’s death. The Texas Rangers have launched a probe into the matter and have a video of the incident.
Scott’s family said the officers’ terminations were “progress” and “the first step of many more to come.” The family continued, “Next, these former officers need to be arrested and brought to justice.”
The family’s attorney said Scott was going through a mental health crisis during the incident. “The statement that [the sheriff] gave today was not thorough nor transparent,” attorney Lee Merritt said. “It wasn’t just weird. It was a mental health crisis,” he added. ‘It is a huge deal to disrespect him in that way.”