FORSYTH, Ga. — The father of a man who died in Monroe County’s custody in January 2020 says he wants to see change after his son's death.
A GBI autopsy lists 40-year-old Josh Marshall's death as homicide. They say the cause of death was neck compression and prone position constraint caused by his fight with deputies.
Monroe County settled a lawsuit with Marshall’s family last month. The county settled for $1 million plus more than $10,000 in funeral expenses.
But the family says they didn’t file the suit for money, but for change.
Part of the settlement includes a scheduled meeting with Sheriff Brad Freeman.
13WMAZ sat down with Josh’s father, Mark Marshall, where he says though their family still mourns Josh’s death every day, they hope his death leads to more training and understanding about mental health care in law enforcement.
Marshall says Josh had only experienced one other schizophrenic episode before January 15, 2020.
It was in Atlanta seven years prior, he says.
When he called Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in 2020, he thought the call was going to be handled like Josh’s previous schizophrenic episode.
But as surveillance video from inside the jail shows, his episode was handled much differently.
“They told me they were going to book him for family violence. And I said, Well, he didn't need that. You know, I don't want to press any charges. I just want you to get into a doctor. You get into a doctor. They got a shot to bring him down,” Marshall said about the conservation he had with Monroe County deputies on January 15, 2020.
His son was experiencing a schizophrenic episode while they were watching TV that evening. He says Josh started beating his own chest but then swung at him.
“There was no reason for jail. Yeah, he attacked me, but it was one slug, and I could handle that,” Marshall said. “What he needed was help.”
Marshall says he thought deputies were going to take him to a treatment facility like the last time Josh experienced a schizophrenic episode like this.
Marshall says Josh had started a fire in their home in Atlanta seven years prior. He says his son thought he was “burning out the witches” from the home while hallucinating during a schizophrenic episode.
An officer later found Marshall walking along I-20 and let him sit in the back of a patrol car until Mark arrived.
“They took him down to Grady Memorial Hospital, and immediately took them up to the 13th floor, which is the mental ward of Grady,” Marshall said. “The doctor told me that he gave him a shot when he got him in there. He said it took him down immediately, back off the high of whatever the disease was doing to him -- not back to normal, but back to a level state where they could handle him.”
According to a report, Monroe County deputies did call RiverEdge Behavioral Health in January 2020, but the report says the facility wouldn’t accept Josh.
Mark says his son had a lapse in his schizophrenia medication because the dose of the shot had run out in his system. He says Josh just needed to be medicated. But ultimately, deputies took Josh to the Monroe County jail to book him for battery.
Mark says deputies should have tried taking him to other facilities before taking him to jail.
“I know three huge hospitals in Macon,” Marshall said.
He says that would have avoided the tragedy.
Shortly after jailers put Josh in a holding cell, he started experiencing a schizophrenic episode. Video shows him slapping and punching himself. Deputies let him out of the cell to get fingerprinted. Then, video shows Josh yelling at jailers. Josh then lunged at a jailer but doesn’t touch him. The deputy shoved Josh back and then a fight broke out.
“It was that disease. That was not Josh's personality at all. His personality was very meek and mild. This disease just took over his brain and caused him to be something he wasn't. I don't understand all that. That's in God's hands,” Marshall said.
Josh is seen punching deputies in the video. It shows jailers putting Marshall into chokeholds and tasing him. The second chokehold lasted a minute and 35 seconds before Marshall was seen unresponsive on surveillance camera.
Marshall says the jailers that handled josh that day did not receive proper training to handle those with mental health diseases like Josh.
“I feel for the deputies. They've got a hard job, but to put them in there with no training at all, you know, that's not fair to them, so they need to have the help and support to do their job,” Marshall said.
Marshall is set to meet with Sheriff Freeman this Wednesday. He says he’s asking for all deputies to receive POST training on responding to mental health calls and inmates with mental health issues.