Youth violence group honors Michael Scott

November 17, 2009 (CHICAGO) The Chief Medical Examiner defended her ruling that the Chicago school board president committed suicide on Monday.

Chicago police are still investigating the cause of death.

While Michael Scott's family and friends are said to be in absolute disbelief that he could have committed suicide, the Cook County Medical Examiner tried to clear up doubts some have about Scott's death being ruled a suicide.

Meanwhile on Tuesday night, there was overwhelming grief and disbelief at an awards ceremony when Michael Scott was remembered.

Chicago public school board member Alberto Carrero, Junior received an award on Tuesday night on behalf of his close friend, Michael Scott, the school board president found dead along the banks of the Chicago River early Monday morning.

"That I accept on behalf of my dear friend Michael, thank you," said Albert Carrero Jr., Chicago Board of Education member.

Michael Scott said he would be there Tuesday night accepting a lifetime achievement award from Life Directions, a group with a mission of preventing violence among Chicago's youth. But instead, divers returned to the Chicago River, investigators went over cell phone records, and police for a second day still would not call Scott's death a suicide.

That prompted Cook County's Chief Medical Examiner to hold a rare news conference to defend her office's ruling that Scott died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the left side of his head. Scott was left handed.

"This was a hard, contact-range gunshot to the head, which means the gun was held against the head and pressed into the head, which is something we see in suicides," said Dr. Nancy Lynne Jones, Chief Medical Examiner.

Dr. Nancy Lynne Jones said she felt the "police department was taking some unfair potshots" at her office and confirmed that two police detectives were present when the suicide ruling was made and agreed with it.

Close friends sounded as if they were glad, nonetheless, to know that police were still investigating, including Mayor Daley on Tuesday.

"I think the police department will thoroughly investigate, nothing left on the table in regard to the questions that have to be asked," said Daley.

Police not ready to label Scott death

The Cook County Medical Examiner ruled that Scott's death was a suicide, but Chicago police have launched a death investigation.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Chicago Police complete press conference

The medical examiner says, after a complete autopsy with two police detectives present, all the forensic evidence leads to suicide. The police department does not want to make that same conclusion, however, until it is ready to tell Michael Scott's family that a thorough police investigation was conducted.

Tuesday, the medical examiner says that investigation began with the police breaking the law.

"Moving the body from a scene without notifying the medical examiner is actually a violation of our [the medical examiner's] ordinance," said Dr. Nancy Lynne Jones.

The Chicago Police Department's marine unit returned Tuesday morning to the banks of the Chicago River where Scott's body was discovered Monday. Police say, before closing the case it is necessary to look through video tapes form several area surveillance cameras, to conduct interviews and to collect evidence.

Despite the police investigation, the Cook County medical examiner was quick to conclude Monday that the Chicago school board president took his own life by shooting himself in the head. The Cook County Medical Examiner stands by her findings.

The Medical Examiner says Scott's autopsy was done with two police detectives present, who also concluded that Scott died from suicide.

However, Mayor Daley says it would be a disservice to his close friend to act on rumors that he may have been a victim of foul play. He says Scott was known as someone who was full of life and never gave any hints of personal trouble to family, friends or colleagues.

Many say suicide does not make sense.

"That's the first question you ask yourself, 'Why?' That is a normal reaction from all of us. Why did it take place," said Daley.

Suicide experts say it is impossible to stereotype a person that takes their life, and it is not unusual for someone to never give any outwardly signs.

"One of the things I've learned over the years, you never know the pain someone is feeling inside themselves," said Fr. Charles Rubey of the Loving Outreach to Survivors of Suicide.

For Mayor Daley, the loss of someone who he trusted is still hard to comprehend.

"Michael was like part of my family. I've known him a long," the mayor said.

A 380 caliber pistol was found under Scott's body. Mayor Daley, who is a strong gun control advocate, says he did not know if his good friend owned a gun.

Police say the gun was not registered.

Michael Scott did not leave a suicide note. Suicide experts say the majority of people who commit suicide do not leave notes.

History of public service

Scott's history of public service spans three decades. Mayor Richard Daley canceled a speech in Michigan to be at Scott's home.

"It's a shock to everyone. Michael was a wonderful friend of mine. He loved Chicago just as much as I did," said Mayor Daley.

Daley appointed Scott to the school board twice. They were close friends for decades. The mayor saw Scott last week at a school-related meeting and said Scott did not appear to be troubled.

"I spoke to him this week and I have good memories of him at all times. I would say the memories of Michael continue. He can be in anyplace, he had a smile and he was always upbeat about life," said Mayor Daley.

Mayor Daley does not think Scott's death has anything to do with a federal investigation into admissions practices at Chicago Public Schools. Scott was recently called to testify in front of the grand jury investigating the CPS policy on enrollment at the city's magnet schools- and whether clout factors in.

Scott served in public posts under three mayors. He was once the head of the Chicago Park District Board and was also a member of the Chicago 2016 Olympic committee. He was the president of his own real estate development firm.

"My wife and I would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the family of Michael Scott. Mr. Scott was a strong advocate for education. His contributions to the minority communities of Cook County will be sorely missed, in particular, his love for the upward mobility of residents from Chicago's West Side where he spent his life," said Cook County Board President Todd Stroger in a statement.

Reverend Jesse Jackson, who was at the scene Monday morning, praised Scott, whom he has known for 25 years. Jackson said Scott was known for getting the job done and was "the man to turn to for anything anyone needed in the city."

"We loved him so much. He meant so much to us," Jackson said. He saw Scott last week and said he was upbeat.

The president of Chicago's Teachers Union, Marilyn Stewart, also released a statement: "He was dedicated to doing what was best for the children in Chicago's public schools, and his death leaves a huge void to fill at a time when the board definitely needs stability in its leadership."

Family releases statement

Scott, 60, is survived by two adult children and his wife, Diana Palomar Scott, who is the vice president of community affairs at ABC7. The family released a statement Monday: "The family of Michael W. Scott deeply appreciates the outpouring of support during this time of unimaginable grief. Our personal loss is also shared by many throughout Chicago, the home he loved so much. We will miss him greatly. Arrangements for a public memorial service will be announced shortly."

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