Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall

A High Falls man who suffered from schizophrenia died in a scuffle with Monroe County jailers after being arrested for battery on Wednesday night.

The Monroe County sheriff’s office says that deputies went to 535 Pioneer Trail about a domestic dispute around 7:55 p.m.

Mark Marshall told the 911 operator that his son, Josh Marshall, 40, was chasing him up the driveway wearing black pants and a black shirt and wearing a pocket knife around his neck. The father said his son has schizophrenia.

Deputies Wade Kendrick and Larry Sullivan arrived at the same time and Kendrick drew his weapon and ordered the son to go to his knees with his hands on his head. Marshall complied and was handcuffed and put into the patrol car.

Mark Marshall told Kendrick that he and his son were watching TV when Josh stood up, started beating his chest and made nonsensical comments about being black. Mark Marshall said his son then struck him in the face, nearly knocking him out of his chair.

Mark Marshall said he got up to get away from his son, who began chasing him to try to hit him again. Mark Marshall said he was able to get his phone and keys on the way out of the home, and that his son struck him several more times outside before he was able to get away. He said he was only able to get away because his son’s schizophrenia medication had made him gain weight to the point that the 5-foot-8 Josh Marshall was now listed as 300 lbs. Mark Marshall said he called 911 and hid in the woods until deputies arrived. Kendrick noted that the left side of Mark Marshall’s face was red and swollen from the assault. Mark Marshall gave deputies a bag of medications to take with Josh to the jail. Kendrick said the medicines were given to jail staff and Josh was put into holding cell 221.

But at 10:53 p.m., about three hours after the original call, the 911 operator told Kendrick there was a fight in the jail. Kendrick returned to the jail and found Josh Marshall on the ground unresponsive in the booking area as jail staff attempted CPR on him. 

A city police report by officer Kevin Powell said he arrived a minute earlier and saw jailer Rustin Hardesty and other staff bracing an unresponsive white male in a seated position. Hardesty asked Powell what he should do and Powell advised they check for a pulse. Hardesty checked Josh Marshall’s neck and said he felt a pulse as Monroe County EMS was dispatched to the jail. But Powell said he noticed Marshall’s lips were blue and told Hardesty to check his pulse again. This time Hardesty said he couldn’t get a pulse.

Deputies took Marshall’s handcuffs off, laid him flat on his back and Hardesty started chest compressions as Powell urged EMS to hurry.

When EMS arrived they took Marshall to Monroe County Hospital but it was too late. Coroner Joey Proctor said a doctor at the hospital pronounced Marshall dead before he arrived. He said it would be several weeks before he heard back from the GBI crime lab about the cause of death.

Sheriff Brad Freeman said he couldn’t comment on reports that Marshall may have been Tasered or put in a choke-hold by jailers. But he did say that three jailers were injured in the fight that led to Marshall’s death, including one who went to the hospital for a head injury. Freeman said once the case is closed he would release jail video of the altercation. 

Freeman has called in the GBI to investigate.

Kendrick’s report said after Marshall’s death, he and deputy Sullivan and chaplain Ed Wilson returned to 535 Pioneer Trail to tell Mark Marshall about his son’s death. Marshall asked them to go with him to inform his son’s mother at her home on Dogwood Trail. See Josh Marshall’s obituary on page 6A.