Medical examiner quits after declaring that bloody, stabbed corpse had died of "natural causes"

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/08/07/gwinnett-county.html

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But, surely it’s perfectly natural to die when you’re stabbbed in the neck?

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To paraphrase one of my favourite spanish comedians…

— The victim died of natural causes.
— And the 78 stab wounds?
— Well, it’s natural to die after being stabbed 78 times!

(Ha! Seems either this joke is more universal than I though, or I’m not the only one who likes Antonio Gila :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: )

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This has to be a post from The Onion. Too funny!

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Did he also fall down an elevator shaft onto some bullets?

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Not funny in a “ha-ha” way, funny in a “poor people of color in this country don’t even get the thinnest veneer of justice from the legal systems or social services that are supposed to protect them” kind of way.

It will come as a surprise to no one that the victim was a black man with a history of addiction problems and was thus not worth even a tiny bit of the medical examiner’s time or attention.

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I heard she was looking to move to Japan, anyway, so this’ll look good on her resume.

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Trying to improve my Spanish. Is there a video you can recommend of his?

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As a serial murderer that frequently employs stabbing and does not wish to be caught, does anyone have her contact info? I’d like her to be hired in my county.

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We forget, man is part of nature.

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A medical examiner is a physician, and the employee described in this article was not a medical examiner. They were a medicolegal death investigator working for the medical examiner, were probably paid a crap salary, and may have been exhausted from the long hours they are often required to work.

I’m not saying that’s the case in this instance, but they were certainly not the physician who works in a controlled environment, works shorter hours, and gets paid significantly more.

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Naturally, John Oliver has already done a deep dive on this topic:

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“accidentally brutally stabbed himself in the stomach while shaving”-- Blackadder, Dish and Dishonesty

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Came here to mention this piece!

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Oof, that headline on the story:

"Gwinnett County ME investigator resigns after misinterpreted autopsy"

Uh, clearly there was not even a cursory examination of the body, much less an actual autopsy.

Hey now - they could be this criminally negligent in all their investigations, not just selectively! We don’t know! /s

One has to wonder just how many cases failed to see justice done, or an accurate cause of death described, as a result of this kind of “professionalism” - clearly not giving the body even a basic examination is the most extreme end of negligence, but that brings every other case into question due to the high likelihood of less-obvious fuck-ups.

Unnecessary effort - there are plenty more like her already out there doing those jobs. Just target poor people of color in rural areas like every other uncaught (and probably undetected) serial killer.

That… doesn’t really help, because it means that there’s a system in place where cause of death determinations are being done by people with no medical knowledge and who can get away with not even giving the body a cursory examination. So it’s not just one negligent person but a completely broken system.

He didn’t even have the time to get into how really bad it is, either. I’ve also read a few long investigative articles on the subject, and the additional information of each one managed to be newly appalling. The whole system is so obviously broken that it’s unbelievable that anyone living with this kind of system would have any knowledge of it and say, “Yeah, this seems fine.”

One of the side effects is that in many parts of the US, local law enforcement can murder people with impunity, because they determine if the death is called a homicide or not. (Well, I say “side effect,” but…)

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My immediate thought wasn’t negligence but a cover-up. Because {gestures vaguely to American society}.

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The headline has that vague conspiracy theory feel to it, but the actual story seems to suggest that this person was just lazy and terrible at their job and got fired for it. Or more accurately “asked to resign” once their gross incompetence showed up in the newspaper.

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Not here to argue with someone who seems to want to pick apart everyone else’s comment, but death investigators do have training. Not as much as a forensic pathologist, but they have training and are licensed by a board. The headline was misleading was my major point. The medical examiner did not quit. I’m not sure what you think my comment was meant to help.

Also, if you’ve never seen someone die at home from an upper GI bleed (commonly the result of alcoholism – not that I’m saying the decedent in this case was an alcoholic), you might be surprised at the amount of blood that is on the scene. If the blood had dried, a small incised wound could easily be missed. Not saying it’s as it should be, but it could happen, and isn’t as egregious a mistake as a layperson might think it would be. Especially when the investigator could be underpaid and overworked.

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I’m listening to Hell and Gone. The same thing happens in Arkansas. After exhumation the cause of death in one case was changed from “Drowning” to “Shot in the fucking head”. Another suspicious case was suicide with five bullet holes in his chest. I guess he just really, really determined.

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Yes, he stabbed himself to death, you heard that right.

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