Maryland Reviews In-Custody Deaths After Suspicions About Cover-Ups

October 25, 2022 by Tom Ramstack
Maryland Reviews In-Custody Deaths After Suspicions About Cover-Ups

BALTIMORE — Maryland’s attorney general is ordering an audit of autopsies of people who died in law enforcement custody after a panel of experts determined the lab reports might have been tainted by political favoritism.

The review will cover 100 autopsies in Maryland between 2002 and 2019, when David Fowler was chief medical examiner.

Fowler was a key witness for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted last year of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd during a street confrontation. Video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck until he was dead touched off protests nationwide.

Fowler testified that Floyd’s preexisting heart and drug abuse problems were more to blame for his death than Chauvin strangling him with his knee on his neck for nine minutes.


On Monday, a police officer who held Floyd’s back as he struggled to breathe pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in a deal with prosecutors.

J. Alexander Kueng pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter just as jury selection was set to begin. He would have faced a charge of aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder if the case proceeded to trial.

Chauvin is serving a 22 ½–year prison sentence, despite Fowler’s testimony that tended to exonerate him.


In Maryland, Attorney General Brian E. Frosh and several medical experts afterward questioned whether Fowler’s other conclusions about what appeared to be natural deaths of prisoners might have represented an effort to cover up violence against them.

“We embarked on this process with the goal of overseeing a professional and independent audit that adheres to the highest standards of impartiality and integrity,” Frosh said in a statement.

An independent panel already has reviewed 1,300 in-custody deaths. They included people who committed suicide or overdosed in jail and persons who died during police chases.

The new audit will focus on 100 deaths the panel says in a 12-page report need a closer review because they “occurred during or shortly after the decedent was physically restrained, and for which no obvious medical cause of death, such as a knife wound, was discerned during the autopsy.”

A National Association of Medical Examiners guide says deaths are distinguished as natural or non-natural based on the “but-for” principle. It means a person might have lived “but-for” an intervening cause of death.

“While there may be debate about how much certainty is required to reach a finding of homicide in a restraint death case, there can be no debate that the threshold should be the same regardless of the race of the decedent or the identity of the person or persons applying the restraint,” the report said.


Fowler claims no wrongdoing as Maryland’s chief medical examiner. The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland supports the new audit.

Tom can be reached at [email protected] and @TomRamstack

A+
a-

In The News

Health

Voting

In The News

Biden Lawyer: FBI Finds No Classified Docs at Beach House

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Bureau of Investigation searched President Joe Biden's vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on Wednesday... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Bureau of Investigation searched President Joe Biden's vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on Wednesday without finding any classified documents, the president's personal attorney said. Agents did take some handwritten notes and other materials relating to Biden's time as vice president... Read More

Connecticut May Exonerate Accused Witches Centuries Later

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Decades before the infamous Salem witch trials in Massachusetts, Alse Young was killed at the gallows in Connecticut,... Read More

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Decades before the infamous Salem witch trials in Massachusetts, Alse Young was killed at the gallows in Connecticut, becoming the first person on record to be executed in the American colonies for witchcraft. The Windsor town clerk registered the death on May 26, 1647,... Read More

February 1, 2023
by Eden Metzger
Hawaiian Senator Seeks to Crack Down on Sex Traffickers

HONOLULU — Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, is continuing to press law enforcement and other officials to stem the rising tide... Read More

HONOLULU — Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, is continuing to press law enforcement and other officials to stem the rising tide of gender-based violence and sex-trafficking involving Native Hawaiian women and girls. Recently she traveled back to the big island from Washington for discussion on the issue... Read More

February 1, 2023
by Dan McCue
Haley Said to Be Announcing Presidential Bid Feb. 15

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Former South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley will formally announce the start of her 2024 campaign for... Read More

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Former South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley will formally announce the start of her 2024 campaign for president in Charleston on Feb. 15. Schuyler Kropf, political editor of Charleston’s Post & Courier newspaper broke the story this morning. Haley has been prepping a... Read More

January 31, 2023
by TWN Staff
Marburg Vaccine Shows Promising Results in First-In-Human Study

WASHINGTON — An experimental vaccine against Marburg virus, a member of the Ebola virus family that causes death in a... Read More

WASHINGTON — An experimental vaccine against Marburg virus, a member of the Ebola virus family that causes death in a large proportion of infected individuals, proved safe and induced an immune response in a small, first-in-human clinical trial. The findings of the researchers at the National... Read More

January 31, 2023
by Tom Ramstack
Trump Sues Washington Post Editor for Audiobook About His Presidency

PENSACOLA, Fla. — Former President Donad Trump filed a lawsuit Tuesday claiming $50 million in damages because of recordings from... Read More

PENSACOLA, Fla. — Former President Donad Trump filed a lawsuit Tuesday claiming $50 million in damages because of recordings from interviews that Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward released in an audiobook. Trump admits he consented to giving taped interviews to Woodward for his book, “Rage,” but... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top