Maryland to Probe Chauvin Defense Witness’s Tenure as State’s Chief Medical Examiner
Maryland officials will conduct an investigation of reports of deaths in police custody overseen by former state chief medical examiner Dr. David Fowler, who testified at trial that former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin was not responsible for the death of George Floyd.
During the trial, Fowler, who was tapped by Chauvin defense attorney Eric Nelson to testify and provide his expert opinion, testified that Floyd’s cause of death could have been attributed to a myriad of factors. They include heart disease or the fact the Floyd was under the influence of drugs.
Fowler said that if he had been the medical examiner in Hennepin County, Minnesota, where Floyd died, he would have ruled his death as “undetermined.” The official determination was homicide by law enforcement restraint.
On April 23, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and Gov. Larry Hogan said they would begin an investigation into Fowler’s tenure, from 2002 until 2019.
“We welcome an independent review of reports on deaths in custody issued during David Fowler’s tenure, and agree it is appropriate for the Office of the Attorney General to coordinate the workgroup,” Michael Ricci, a spokesperson for Hogan, said in a statement to the Baltimore Sun.
Raquel Coombs, a spokeswoman for Frosh’s office, said that they have “taken steps to wall off those in our office who are representing the [Office of the Chief Medical Examiner] and its current and former employees, including Dr. Fowler” from the investigation, the newspaper reported.
Fowler told the Sun he stands by his work as chief state examiner.
“People need to do what they need to do [but] there’s a large team of forensic pathologists, with layers of supervision, and those medical examiners always did tremendous work,” he said. He didn’t make any comments about his testimony at Chauvin’s trial.
The investigation into Fowler’s career could spark accusations that it’s politically motivated. Conservatives have argued that the guilty verdicts handed down against Chauvin were partially due to political pressure from Black Lives Matter protesters and some Democratic members of Congress.
One of Fowler’s office’s best-known rulings followed the death of Freddie Gray. According to the ruling, Gray died from injuries suffered in the back of a police van. The autopsy concluded that officers’ failure to take care of him and seek medical attention made his death a homicide, and prompted State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby to swiftly file charges against six officers. All were either acquitted or had their charges dropped.
Brian Peterson, the chief medical examiner for Milwaukee County in Wisconsin, said he and Fowler have been friends for years and served together on committees. Peterson told The Washington Post he finds the investigation into Fowler’s time as chief medical examiner unnecessary and called Fowler an “excellent, experienced forensic pathologist.”
Maryland’s governor’s office didn’t respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment by press time.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.