Eight Texas jail guards who were fired or resigned after the in-custody death of a schizophrenic inmate will not face any state criminal charges, local reports said Tuesday.
A grand jury in Collin County declined to indict the jailers in the March 14 death of Marvin Scott III, who was restrained, pepper-sprayed and covered with a spit mask, The Dallas Morning News reported.
“After careful consideration of the applicable law and all the relevant facts we find the no probable cause exist to charge any person with a criminal offense related to the death of Mr. Scott,” the grand jury said in a statement.
Possible charges could have ranged from misdemeanor assault to murder, according to KTVT.
Scott’s death was ruled a homicide last month. A medical examiner found that the 26-year-old died from a “fatal acute stress response in an individual with previously diagnosed schizophrenia during restraint struggle with law enforcement.”
Scott had been jailed on misdemeanor marijuana possession charges after cops said they found him sitting next to a small amount of weed at an outlet mall in Allen, Texas.
While in custody, Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner said that Scott began exhibiting “strange behavior.”
Jail guards tied him to a restraint bed before pepper-spraying him and placing a spit hood over his head. He became unresponsive and was taken to a hospital, where he was declared dead.
Seven corrections officers at the Collin County Jail, including a captain, a lieutenant, and two sergeants, were fired following an internal investigation. One of the seven successfully appealed the decision. An eight guards resigned.
Scott’s family and supporters had called for the officers to be arrested and charged in his death, with protests taking place almost daily since his death, according to the Dallas Morning News.
The Collin County district attorney’s office said that the grand jury had reviewed evidence, including video of the incident, before deciding not to indict the jailers.
The grand jury recommended that a group consisting of community leaders, criminal justice officials and mental health professionals be formed to study the circumstances surrounding Scott’s death “for lessons learned in an effort to avoid any similar future tragedy.”
“The goal of this work group should be finding the best solutions for the treatment of individuals with mental illness who come in contact with a criminal justice system,” the grand jury said.
District Attorney Greg Willis said he would take the lead in assembling the group as a way to honor Scott’s memory, as he asked for prayers for Scott’s family.
“For a parent to lose a child … is a loss that’s profound, permanent and unfixable,” Willis said in a statement.