Warning: Some content in the above video may be disturbing for some viewers.
DUNBAR, WV (WOWK) – No criminal charges were filed after a 34-year-old man died in police custody in July 2022 due to lack of evidence, but there are still many questions left unanswered.
13 News spoke with James Nolan, a professor at West Virginia University (WVU), about the body camera video that was released last week.
Nolan served as a police officer for 13 years and worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation before his career at WVU. After watching the body camera video for Dunbar Officers Zachary Winters and Adam Mason, he said the audio in the video seems disconnected from what you can see happening.
In the video, you can see Winters attempting to arrest Michael Scott Jr. on July 22, 2022, for a misdemeanor trespassing charge. You can hear Winters telling Scott to “stop *** pulling away” from him, but Nolan said that doesn’t match with what you can see in the video.
“He (Scott) walked to him, he’s putting his hands behind his back,” Nolan said. “It’s very difficult because when (Mason) approached and said, ‘I saw him all hyped up’ and ‘I saw he was going to run’ … It goes against what I’m seeing.”
With only watching the video and examining incident reports, Nolan said there could be other factors, such as prior encounters with law enforcement, that could also explain the interaction. Nonetheless, he described Winters demeanor as “callous” and “intolerant.”
“He’s (Scott) falling out and you can see that he’s unconscious, he’s breathing heavily, it’s distressed breathing and he’s (Winters) like going on saying, ‘Mikey, come on, you’re faking it. We were just talking on the way out.’ But that’s just not true.”
From a psychological point of view, he said this may come from a need to instill order. However, even with Scott’s deteriorating condition noticed by correctional officers at the jail, Winters’ disposition doesn’t change.
“He’s bragging a bit that he suplexed him,” Nolan said. “He said at one point … it didn’t work out for very well for him, and this was when he was dying.”
It wasn’t until two and a half hours after Scott hit the ground that he made it to CAMC General Hospital, where he died two days later from blunt force injuries to the head.
The Dunbar Police Department declined to comment due to a pending civil lawsuit filed by Scott’s family.