A Death Dishonored

Attackers who beat a homeless man and left him for dead in 2017 went free when the Lane County DA dropped charges

By Scott McKee

Steven Ray Scott was beaten and left for dead during a senseless argument over a crack pipe in Springfield. The reason his known killers are still free is best described in hyperbole.

Hypothetically, a police officer is smashed in the head with a golf club during a dispute and left for dead. Soon after, Eugene Springfield emergency service (EMS) personnel intubate the unconscious but alive officer and transport him to Riverbend Hospital, where he dies.

A woman and her adult son are arrested by Springfield police, charged with intentional murder. Later, an autopsy confirms the suspected cause of death: “blunt force trauma.”

Still later, in a rare court motion, the Lane County district attorney dismissed the murder charges, the killers released on their own recognizance, pending, according to a statement released by the DA, further investigation because of information discovered at autopsy.

The autopsy discovery: a snarl of entangled gastrointestinal tubing in the back of the throat; easily of size and proximity to have contributed to death by asphyxia. The unintended result of mal-inserted intubation by EMS personnel during on-scene life saving measures.

Truth: This all happened Sept. 3, 2017. The known suspects remain free today, but the victim was no cop.

Reality: Cop killers would experience justice and it would come swiftly. Regardless of complications or mitigating circumstances discovered at autopsy.

Harsh reality: The actual murder victim in this hypothetical example was really a homeless, meth influenced Black man.

But there is nothing made up about the circumstances of his death.

Hypothetically, if someone you loved met a similar fate, their attackers would see justice from the Lane County DA. The reality is that not all lives carry the same value for justice by practice of the Lane County DA.

The police officer example is rhetorical hyperbole to emphasize the disparate treatment in the murder of Steven Scott by the Lane County criminal justice system. What possible discovery at autopsy would ever throw off course the criminal prosecution of known and arrested suspects in the murder of a police officer? The erroneous placement of intubation by EMS personnel in good-faith life-saving measures does not erase the intentionally criminal blows to the head that lead to the murder of this human — cop or civilian, Black or otherwise.

Fact: Every human deserves to be treated with dignity and respect at death regardless of the circumstances of their life. The dead cannot demand justice.

The unpunished murder of Steven Scott is a travesty. A bigger one will be when the unpunished strike again. Perhaps next time they kill it will be someone whose life matters to the Lane County district attorney.

Email or phone your elected Lane County district attorney and demand justice for Steven Scott. There is no statute of limitations for murder, but four years is long enough.

Scott McKee, who is a private investigator, licensed in Oregon, is a 34-year police veteran in the state. You can watch the two-part October 2020 “Special Report: The Death of Steven Scott” on KEZI for more on this case.