The in-custody death of a 65-year-old man this month has been ruled an accident.
Roy Anthony Scott of Las Vegas died the morning of March 3 after he had struggled with Las Vegas police. On Wednesday, the Clark County coroner’s office determined he died of methamphetamine intoxication, with other significant conditions including paranoid schizophrenia and hypertensive and arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
His death was accidental, the coroner’s office said.
Scott had called police about 3:10 a.m. to report three suspicious men, one armed with a saw, outside his apartment. Arriving Metropolitan Police Department officers did not find anybody outside his apartment.
He struggled with police as they tried to handcuff him and pat him down for additional weapons. He later died at Valley Hospital Medical Center, the coroner’s office has said.
On March 8, Metro released some body camera footage of the officers’ struggle with Scott during a news conference. Deputy Chief Chris Jones told news media that the officers handcuffed Scott to search for weapons after he had dropped a pipe and handed over a knife.
The officers and Scott struggled on the ground while they tried to cuff him. At some point after they did, Scott appeared to be talking less, and his breathing became labored, Jones said during the news conference.
The video showed Scott yelling “please, sir, leave me alone” multiple times as officers held him while he was on his back. After a couple of minutes Huntsman and Smith rolled him over, with one officer placing his knee on Scott’s back and a short time later on his head, the footage showed.
Jones said he believed the officers, 29-year-old Theodore Huntsman and 27-year-old Kyle Smith, “acted appropriately” during the struggle.
The footage didn’t show medical help arrive, but Scott was in handcuffs until the ambulance came, Metro spokesman Aden OcampoGomez has said. Police asked for an ambulance at 3:42 a.m. for a cut on Scott’s head, they asked for paramedics to expedite at 3:48 a.m., and the ambulance arrived at 3:55 a.m., Jones said at the press conference.
Rebecca Switzer, Scott’s sister-in-law, has said that a video not shown to media was “way worse” than the other. She maintained on Wednesday that Scott’s death was not accidental.
“They sat on his back, they sat on his neck, one sat on his leg, and he died,” Switzer said Wednesday. “Roy Scott did not die on the way (to the hospital) in the ambulance.”
A day before the March news conference, Scott’s family members viewed footage from both officers’ body cameras at Metro headquarters. They were frustrated with the fact he wasn’t released from handcuffs prior to medical help arriving.
Police had checked for a pulse multiple times but did not remove the restraints, Rochelle Scott, Roy Scott’s daughter, said March 7.
“He laid there and died in handcuffs,” she said.
Switzer said on Wednesday that police knew that Scott was schizophrenic from past encounters he had with officers, and that he should have been treated better.
“I’m pretty sure maybe he did get high earlier that day,” she said. “That still don’t make a person not a human being. How many people that you know, lawyers, doctors and everything, that get high, but they still treat them like a human being.”