Death of Donald P. Scott

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Donald P. Scott was killed during a police raid on October 2, 1992 as they attempted to serve a warrant to search for marijuana at his remote Ventura County ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains.[1] Upon forcible entry into his residence, an officer shot and killed Scott. Scott, recovering from a cataract operation, was wielding a firearm over his head when he entered the room where his wife was yelling "Don't shoot me." No marijuana plants or other evidence of drug sales were found on the property.[2]

The raid[edit]

Early on the morning of October 2, 1992, 31 officers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Drug Enforcement Administration, Border Patrol, National Guard and Park Service entered the Scott's 200-acre (0.81 km2) ranch. [3] They planned to arrest Scott for allegedly running a 4,000-plant marijuana plantation.[1] When deputies broke down the door to Scott's house, Scott's wife would later tell reporters, she screamed, "Don't shoot me. Don't kill me."[4] That brought Scott staggering out of the bedroom, blurry-eyed from a cataract operation—holding a .38 caliber Colt snub-nosed revolver over his head.[5] When he emerged at the top of the stairs, holding his gun over his head, the officers told him to lower the gun. As he did, they shot him to death. According to the official report, the gun was pointed at the officers when they shot him.[1]

Later, the lead agent in the case, sheriff's deputy Gary Spencer and his partner John Cater posed for photographs smiling arm-in-arm outside Scott's cabin.[5]

Despite a subsequent search of Scott's ranch using helicopters, dogs, searchers on foot, and a high-tech Jet Propulsion Laboratory device for detecting trace amounts of sinsemilla, no marijuana—or any other illegal drug—was found.[6]


Scott's widow, the former Frances Plante, along with four of Scott's children from previous marriages, subsequently filed a $100 million wrongful death suit against the county and federal government. For eight years the case dragged on, requiring the services of 15 attorneys and some 30 volume binders to hold all the court documents. In January 2000, attorneys for Los Angeles County and the federal government agreed to settle with Scott's heirs and estate for $5 million, even though the sheriff's department still maintained its deputies had done nothing wrong.[6]

Michael D. Bradbury, the District Attorney of Ventura County conducted an investigation into the raid and the aftermath, issuing a report on the events leading up to and on October 2, 1992.[1] He concluded that asset forfeiture was a motive for the raid.[7][8]

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department issued their own report in response, clearing everyone involved of wrongdoing while California Attorney General Dan Lungren criticized District Attorney Bradbury. Sheriff Spencer sued D.A. Bradbury for defamation in response to the report.[5] The court ruled in favor of Michael Bradbury and ordered Sheriff Spencer to pay $50,000 in Bradbury's legal bills.[2]


Scott was cremated and the ashes given to his widow. The ashes were later destroyed when his ranch home was burnt in a 1993 wildfire.[9]

See also[edit]


  2. ^ a b California Court of Appeal, Second District, Div. 6 (October 31, 1996). "Bradbury v. Superior Court".
  3. ^ Bradbury, Michael (1993-03-30). "PERSONS PRESENT WHEN WARRANT EXECUTED".
  4. ^ Grantland, Brenda (November 1992). "L.A. Forfeiture Squads Kill California Millionaire". Forfeiture Endangers American Rights.
  5. ^ a b c Ciotti, Paul (2000-01-23). "Donald Scott Case - killing for land".
  6. ^ a b Cotts, Cynthia (June 9–15, 1993). "The Pot Plot". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on 2008-02-12.
  7. ^ Bradbury, Michael (1993-03-31). "District Attorney County of Ventura Report of Forfeiture Motive for raid".
  8. ^ DeNoce, Kevin (1993-03-31). "Appendix D: Letter from Assistant D.A. Kevin DeNoce".
  9. ^ Meyers, Jeff (October 30, 1993). "Scott's Widow Vows to Remain at Ranch : Destruction: Frances Plante Scott, whose husband was slain in a raid a year ago, says she will rebuild like 'they rebuilt the Alamo.'". L.A Times. Retrieved 14 May 2013.

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