From the Eagle Point Mail Tribune, June 15, 2012
The mother of Scott Chappell, who died Tuesday following an altercation with Eagle Point police, said it’s ironic that her son survived tours in Afghanistan only to die inside his home.
FACEBOOK – Scott Chappell
READ – Jackson County Sheriff’s Office – In-Custody Death Investigation June 13, 2012, and In-Custody Death Investigation UPDATE June 14, 2012
“He made it through the war zone and ends up getting killed here,” Carol Kidder said.
Chappell’s family is awaiting the results of an autopsy that could shed some light on what led to his death.
An investigation into his death is under way by the area’s Major Assault and Death Investigation Unit.
Kidder said she was with Chappell in his home on Little Butte Road when his behavior became erratic, possibly the result of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to his family.
“He had his spells with PTSD,” said Cindy Chappell, his sister.
The officers arrived with paramedics and attempted to subdue Chappell. As they attempted to escort him to a vehicle for transport to the hospital, Chappell began to struggle, police said.
The officers used a stun gun, which deploys an electrical charge, to subdue Chappell. It had no effect, police said.
Chappell eventually was detained and placed in an ambulance. On the way to the hospital, Chappell stopped breathing.
He was taken to Rogue Valley Medical Center in Medford, where he was pronounced dead.
Kidder and Cindy Chappell dispute the investigator’s take on the events that led to the death.
Kidder would not elaborate on her concerns because she was advised by her lawyer not to speak about what she witnessed that day.
“I seen it all,” Kidder said. “The police story is all fabricated and corrupt.”
Kidder says she plans to sue the department to make a point about how soldiers are treated upon their return from the war zone.
“We are not doing right by these soldiers,” she said. “The police need to know how to handle someone suffering from (PTSD).”
Chappell, 44, was deployed to Kosovo and Afghanistan during his military career.
He started out with the U.S. Army, joining in his 30s.
“The people in his unit called him ‘Grandpa,’ ” Cindy Chappell said.
He left the Army and found that he missed military life. He joined the National Guard and found himself fighting in Afghanistan.
Kidder said her son was affected by some of what he witnessed in Afghanistan.
Carol Kidder, left, and Cindy Chappell talk about the death of Scott Chappell Thursday in their Eagle Point home.
“He would sometimes leave during a violent movie because he couldn’t handle it,” Cindy Chappell said. “He didn’t like to talk about it, but he did tell us that he saw people blown up over there.”
Chappell returned from duty and became active in local veterans’ activities. He was interviewed in a Mail Tribune story in 2010 as part of a veterans’ job rally he helped organize in Central Point.
His family said Chappell was attending Rogue Community College to attain his nursing degree.
“He wanted a job where he could help people,” Cindy Chappell said.
Chappell’s life might have taken a dark turn, however, in recent months.
Jackson County Circuit Court records show he was scheduled for trial on charges of possession of methamphetamine, resisting arrest, assaulting a police officer and disorderly conduct.
Kidder and Cindy Chappell would not comment on these charges, but said they expected he would have been cleared by a jury.
“The truth would have come out,” Kidder said.
Chappell’s hometown was Tracy, Calif., and he moved to Eagle Point five years ago. He leaves behind an 18-year-old daughter who lives in Yuba, Calif.
Cindy Chappell said some of the soldiers he served with have called in shock when they heard the news of his death.
“They call crying, devastated,” she said.
She and her brother were set to go bass fishing this weekend.
“The worms are still in the backyard,” she said. “It’s hard to look out there and see them. It makes me think that we were going to spend time together this weekend.”
Police won’t comment on the case until the investigation is completed.
That could take some time, as a toxicology test performed on Chappell could take weeks to complete.
Meanwhile, Kidder is determined to spread the word about PTSD.
“The soldiers are not getting the help they need when they get back,” she said.
Obituary – Scott James Chappell “Chappy”
Scott James ” Chappy” Chappell
Scott Chappell, 44, of Eagle Point, Ore., passed away June 12, 2012, at his home. He was born January 6, 1968, in Fremont, Calif., to Carol Ann Cary and James Lafayette Chappell. Scott grew up in Tracy, Calif., and graduated from Colfax High School in 1986. He moved to Eagle Point in 2007.
He was a journeyman painter, painting houses and commercial buildings in California and Oregon. Scott joined the United States Army in 2003, and served in Kosovo and Afghanistan. After his service in Afghanistan, Scott joined the National Guard. He helped organize the veteran’s job rally in Central Point, Ore. Scott was enrolled in Rogue Community College studying for a degree in nursing. Scott loved to help anyone who needed it. His hobbies included fishing, doing yard work, gardening, making bird houses and wooden ducks, riding mountain bikes, and motorcycles.
In addition to his parents, Scott is survived by a daughter, Taylor Ann Chappell; and two sisters, Cindy and Wendy Chappell. He believed in and lived by the motto, “Truth, Strength, and Honor,” and “Army Strong.”
A Memorial Fund has been set up in Scott’s name at Rogue Federal Credit Union, 1332 S. Shasta Ave., Suite C, Eagle Point, OR 97524-8623. A celebration of life will be held Monday, June 25, 2012, 11:00 a.m., in the VA Domicilary Interfaith Chapel with Pastor Jimmie Roberts officiating. A committal service with military honors will be held at a later date at Eagle Point National Cemetery. Conger-Morris Upper Rogue Tribute Center is entrusted with the arrangements, 541-826-0838.
Responders need training on PTSD
As I listened to Taps being played for veteran Scott Chappell’s memorial services at the Interfaith Chapel at Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics, I felt sadness and anger as I reflected back on how many times the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Southern Oregon has held educational forums and panels that came to the same conclusion: Mental Health Court and Crisis Intervention Training for first responders would save lives! Why haven’t they been accomplished?
We know the investigation of his death by Jackson County Major Assault and Death Investigation Unit (MA/DIU) continues and the autopsy results are not completed. Whatever the results of these processes, we feel if these two important programs had been in place, perhaps the death of veteran Scott Chappell, who suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the many others who suffered from a mental illness who have lost their lives after contact with law enforcement, might be alive today.
Jackson County MA/DIU is comprised of investigators, forensic teams and prosecutors from the major law enforcement agencies in Jackson County and is not an outside agency.
We feel it is improper to task this group with investigating their own officers. We respectively request that an outside independent agency be brought in to investigate the death of Scott Chappell.
[signed] Patricia Garoutte, president, National Alliance on Mental Illness of Southern Oregon
Family speaks out about death investigation
Although his military past is what he was most proud of, Scott Chappell’s family says in the end it’s what broke him.
“I know the war changed him,” his mother Carol Kidder said. “It really did. It broke him.”
On Tuesday night Chappell died after being tased by Eagle Point Police at his home off Little Butte Drive. In a press release, the Jackson County Sheriff’s office says police used the Taser because Chappell began acting erratically.
Kidder says she called 9-1-1 because Chappell was having a post-traumatic stress disorder episode.
“He was paranoid,” Kidder said. “He was sweating bad.”
However, Chappell’s family says they never wanted police to show up. Kidder said she only wanted an ambulance to take her son to the hospital, saying he had a run-in with police a few months ago.
Chappell’s sister, Cindy, says when officers arrived her brother got very scared. Cindy says Scott does not respond well to aggressive people, and the officers tried pinning him down.
“I know if they hadn’t been here, he would have never died,” Cindy said.
The sheriff’s office says the Taser had no effect on Chappell, and they were eventually able to detain him. But on the way to the hospital deputies say he stopped breathing.
Chappell’s family says he used to live at the VA facility in White City. Kidder says he served in the U.S. Army with tours in Afghanistan, and suffers from PTSD and other substance abuse issues.
His sister Cindy hopes that all veterans can get the help they need, saying her brother would never hurt anyone.
“I’m going to miss him so much,” she said. “I can’t believe he’s gone. I wouldn’t want anything like this to happen to anyone again — ever.”
Deputies say they do not know exactly how Chappell died, and are waiting for autopsy results.
Eagle Point Police and the sheriff’s office did not immediately return phone calls.
Chappell’s family says they plan on having his memorial at the Eagle Point National Cemetary next week.
Call to action: Veterans seek to boost awareness of PTSD
From the Eagle Point Mail Tribune, June 27, 2012
Veterans seek more awareness for police officers dealing with PTSD sufferers
EAGLE POINT — A group of concerned military veterans Tuesday asked the Eagle Point City Council to consider training police officers there to deal with former soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The veterans approached the council in response to the death of Scott Chappell. Chappell, 44, died June 12 after a struggle with Eagle Point police at his home on Little Butte Drive.
Wayne Underhill was Chappell’s squad leader when both served in Afghanistan. Underhill addressed the council and Eagle Point police Chief Vern Thomspon.
“We are not here to point fingers and blame the police for what happened,” Underhill said. “We just want to open up channels to the local police department about how to deal with veterans suffering from PTSD.”
The area’s Major Assault and Death Investigation Unit is assisting the Sheriff’s Department in investigating the in-custody death of Chappell. They do not know if a stun gun charge was responsible for his death and will await autopsy results to see if there were other possible factors.
The officers arrived at Chappell’s home and found him acting erratically. Chappell’s family told the officers they were concerned for his safety and asked officers to take him to the hospital.
The officers, Jackson County Fire District No. 3 and Mercy Flights medics on the scene attempted to escort him to a vehicle for transport to a hospital but were deterred when he began to struggle.
An Eagle Point police officer then used a stun gun to subdue Chappell. The electrical charge from the stun gun did not appear to have an effect. Chappell eventually was detained and placed in an ambulance.
On the way to the hospital, Chappell stopped breathing. He was taken to Rogue Valley Medical Center in Medford, where he was pronounced dead, police said.
Underhill said combat veterans pose a challenge for police because they are “hard-wired” for survival in violent situations.
“A lot of these guys coming back have served multiple tours,” he said. “With PTSD, many of them revert back to their training when they feel threatened.”
Underhill described Chappell as easy-going and “big-hearted.”
Pat Allen, chapter president of the Old Guard Riders, a motorcycle club created to raise awareness about veterans’ affairs, said most soldiers with PTSD are more intent on hurting themselves than others.
“PTSD has been with us since World War II, when they didn’t know what it was,” Allen said. “We need more training for law enforcement to recognize soldiers with PTSD and be able to help them.”
The veterans gathered outside City Hall after the meeting and discussed options to present before the council in the coming weeks.
They intend to conduct research on PTSD to present to the council.
Meanwhile, the investigation into Chappell’s death continues. The results of an autopsy and a toxicology report are due in the coming weeks.
“It’s a real sad story this had to happen,” Allen said.