In the pre-dawn hours of February 17, 2006, CHP Officer Earl Scott was patrolling Highway 99 near the town of Ripon, a farming community in California’s Central Valley. At approximately 4:30 a.m. Officer Scott made a traffic stop on a 1990s Nissan Maxima, believed to be speeding.
A witness driving past the scene saw the officer go down and doubled back, jumping a fence to get to Officer Scott. The witness found Scott lying on the shoulder, officials said. He called 911 from his cell phone. Stanislaus County Sheriff’s deputies and CHP officers responded and found Scott deceased, with the Nissan’s registration papers still in his hand.
Officials immediately launched a statewide manhunt for the car, which was found unoccupied later that morning. At 8:40 a.m., 30-year old Columbus Junior Allen II walked into the Stockton Police Department in connection with the shooting. After lengthy questioning Allen was arrested for the murder of Officer Earl Scott.
Scott came from a family of law enforcement officers. His father and two uncles retired from the CHP and his cousin currently serves as a Sergeant with the CHP’s Stockton office. He is survived by his father and stepmother, Bill and Terrie Scott; sister, Lena Scott Tate; and grandmother, Margaret Whitney. He was unmarried with no children and was just shy of marking his fifth anniversary with the CHP. He had been with the Modesto Area office for about three years. Previously, he had worked out of the Santa Cruz Area office.
On February 23rd, at the First Baptist Church in downtown Modesto thousands of officers from as far away as Massachusetts and South Carolina gathered to salute a man they described as a devoted officer and an unfailingly loyal friend.
CHP Commissioner Brown spoke first, praising Scott for his devotion to law enforcement and agonizing over his untimely murder. “To me, it’s a travesty that a young man like Earl should have to give up his life in such a manner,” Brown said.
CHP Central Division commander, Chief Ed Fincel, said “this grief was forced upon us,” and referred to Scott’s killer as a “criminal coward.”
Attorney General Bill Lockyer, the only elected official to speak at the funeral, said he represented 37 million Californians in expressing his grief. He also promised Scott’s father that justice will be served. “Mr. Scott, every forensic resource and prosecutorial resource needed to do justice will be used,” Lockyer said. “And the message is: if you kill a law enforcement officer in California, we won’t rest until (the killer is prosecuted). That is a promise, sir.”
Scott’s longtime friends, Modesto police officer Rob Hart and CHP officer Brandon Rioux, spoke last.
Hart met Scott in 1991, and the two quickly became roommates and best friends, he said. Even when Scott bought a home in Hughson in 2004, the two remained close. Hart recently bought a home in the same neighborhood, to be closer to Scott, he said. In that neighborhood, Scott’s home was always open to friends and neighbors. “Earl opened his home to everyone,” he said, adding that the park across the street from Scott’s home is to be renamed Earl H. Scott Park.
Echoing Hart’s comments, CHP officer Brandon Rioux said, “Earl made friends wherever he went. He was truly a gentleman. He was a guy you wanted your sister to find and to love.”
Rioux closed his emotional farewell to Scott by reciting CHP radio code. “I’d like to say something that Earl didn’t get to say: Modesto 40-32, 10-10.”