McKINNEY, Texas - A Collin County grand jury on Tuesday declined to indict eight jailers in connection with the in-custody death of Marvin Scott III.
Scott was pepper-sprayed and restrained by Collin County jailers on March 14. In April, his death was ruled a homicide.
The Collin County Sheriff’s Office is not commenting on today’s grand jury decision, but it’s not the news Scott’s family was hoping for.
Scott's family said they wanted the officers, seven of whom had been fired and the eighth resigned, to face charges for his death. But the grand jury no-billed former detention officers Blaise Mikulewicz, Austin Wong, Justin Patrick, Rafael Paredez, James Schoelen, Alec Difatta, Andres Cardenas, and Christopher Windsor.
"They did a no bill, so basically they get off. Nothing happens to them," said his father, Marvin Scott Jr. "It wasn’t what I envisioned or what the family envisioned."
The grand jury took the rare step of issuing a statement about their decision, calling Scott's death a "tragedy" but stating they could not find any probable cause for indictments. The grand jury instead recommended a countywide working group be convened to study and "find the best solutions for the treatment of individuals with mental illness who come into contact with the criminal justice system."
The district attorney says the grand jury interviewed witnesses and reviewed jail video -- portions of which were previously shown to Scott's family.
"I’ve seen the last 15 minutes of my son’s life," Scott Jr. said. "He was mishandled, mistreated."
Scott was arrested at the Allen Outlet Malls for marijuana possession. Allen police said he displayed erratic behavior, so he was transferred to a hospital. He was cleared by a physician three hours later to be taken to jail, where the Collin County sheriff said Scott began to act strangely.
Scott's family said he was a diagnosed schizophrenic but had not experienced an episode in more than a year.
According to the sheriff, officers put Scott on a restraint bed, placed a spit hood on him and used pepper spray. He became unresponsive and later died. The autopsy said he died from acute stress response during restraint struggle with law enforcement.
Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis said he also shared the grand jury's concern about how people with mental illness are treated.
"I pledge to honor Mr. Scott by taking the lead in assembling a working group to look for lessons learned so that his tragic in-custody death will not have been in vain," Willis said in a statement.
Family, friends and community activists had been protesting at the jail for months.
Six of the officers have appealed their terminations, with just one getting his job back.