Death shocks family

From the Medford Mail Tribune, October 14, 2011

A Phoenix man’s relatives and residents of a Medford mobile home park are baffled by his sudden death as police were subduing him

The Jackson County District Attorney’s Office is reviewing the death of Scott Joseph Carlson, 50, who alarmed residents of a Medford mobile home park early Thursday morning and died after being subdued by Phoenix and Talent police.

District Attorney Mark Huddleston is waiting to receive an investigation report from the Jackson County Major Assault and Death Investigation Unit. That’s standard protocol when a death follows the use of physical force by police, Huddleston said.

An autopsy is scheduled for today.

A statement from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department said police responded to 9-1-1 calls from residents of Glenwood Mobile Home Park on South Pacific Highway. The callers said a man was waving a long stick and breaking glass at 3:30 a.m. Thursday.

According to the statement, Carlson struggled with police, collapsed and died. No chemical was used on him, and he was not struck with a baton or shocked with a Taser, according to the Sheriff’s Department statement and a witness.

Carlson, who lived in Phoenix, had drug convictions in 2004 and 2005 in Jackson County, but none since then in Oregon.

His sister-in-law, Teresa Roberts of Phoenix, said Carlson had experienced a hard life, but “Scotty was a loving person and our best friend.”

She said Carlson, a former landscaper, had eaten dinner with her family Wednesday and when he was not seen again the next day, his brother, Dale Withrow, went looking for him.

“I searched under bridges, behind buildings,” Withrow said. “He had packed a bag and said he was leaving Medford.”

Withrow was at Carlson’s home when he was informed by sheriff investigators that his brother had died.

Withrow then went to Glenwood Park on Thursday afternoon and spoke to Bill White, who witnessed the incident.

White and other residents in the 55-and-older community were awakened earlier that morning by the sound of glass breaking and dogs barking. White said he went outside and saw Carlson, a man he did not know, on his porch. Carlson then retreated to a rose garden.

“He had a stick in his hand and he was sitting on my rosebush. He said something about playing a game,” White said. “He was pretending like he was a soldier. I told him, ‘You don’t belong here.’ ”

Carlson then ran across the street to Tom and Barbara Running’s front porch where witnesses say he broke a light.

Tom Running heard the noise and went to his front door with his flashlight.

“I told him to get off the porch,” Running said. “He was looking right through me.”

Running was on the phone when the police arrived. He did not see Carlson again until police had him on the ground and were trying to handcuff him.

White said he was close enough to hear the police talk to Carlson.

“The two officers tried to talk him down from the porch,” White said. “He lunged at them. They grabbed him and wrestled him across the driveway. He was flailing. They all ended on the ground.”

White said Carlson was later face-down, handcuffed and not answering police questions.

“He had stopped breathing,” White said. “They flipped him over and started doing CPR. The sheriff (deputies) showed up. One had a first aid kit with an oxygen mask. At that point, I got out of the way. Everything happened so quickly.”

Carlson was transported by ambulance to Rogue Valley Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Glenwood Park, longtime residents say, is usually quiet. The last incident Pat Skundrick could recall was when a neighbor’s car gas tank was siphoned by a stranger coming off Pacific Highway.

“I want to go on vacation to Aruba,” says Tom Running. “This was a hell of a thing to happen when you’re all comfy in bed.”