Police said they are investigating the death of a 72-year-old Long Beach woman as a homicide after a coroner declared she died due to lasting head trauma she sustained after being punched in the face six months ago.
The Long Beach Police Department announced last week they were investigating the death of Barbara Scott as a homicide after an analysis conducted by the coroner’s office concluded that she died in September due to the impact of her injuries.
“When a person is examined by one of our doctors, a cause of death is not always immediately determined,” said Sarah Ardalani, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, who pointed at additional testing as the reason why Scott’s death had not been declared a homicide until months later.
Scott was in an alleyway around 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, when she witnessed an argument between a man and woman, police said.
When she tried to intervene and get them to stop arguing, the man walked over to Scott and punched her in the face, according to details from a coroner’s report. The man and woman then fled the scene.
First responders arrived a couple of minutes later and found an injured Scott near the 1000 block of Redondo Avenue. Paramedics provided immediate aid but she refused to be transported to a local hospital, opting to return to her apartment instead, according to witness accounts detailed in the coroner’s report.
Nearly seven hours later, a neighbor did a welfare check on Scott and found her unconscious, authorities said.
Paramedics then transported Scott to St. Mary Medical Center where she underwent surgery to reduce the swelling in her brain after suffering a subdural hematoma, according to an analysis conducted by the coroner’s office.
After her surgery, Scott, who is a military veteran, was transferred to the Veteran’s Affairs hospital in Long Beach, according to the coroner’s report.
A day before her death, witnesses recalled seeing Scott “awake but tired” as she was discharged from the VA hospital to a local nursing home, according to the report.
Nursing home staff recalled seeing Scott alive and breathing around 7 a.m. on Sept. 16, but hours later paramedics arrived and pronounced her dead.
Four days later, the coroner’s office began an autopsy on Scott’s body. Her death was ruled a homicide on Feb. 24 after additional tests were performed to ensure that the cause of death was related to the blunt head trauma from the punch in the face in August.
Homicide detectives launched an investigation into Scott’s death on Feb. 28.
Police are working to determine the identity of the man that punched Scott, who is believed to be in his 20s, according to the LBPD.
With Scott’s death classified as a homicide, that brings up the 2021 murder total to 38, one more than the previous year.