Thursday, July 2, 2009



(July 2, Valhalla, NY) The Forensic Pathologist is armed with many tools; some highly sophisticated, new generation technology, others, age old tried and true methodology. Pathology, be it Anatomic or Forensic is often a shade more art than science. The Pathologist either during the gross examination of the deceased in the morgue at autopsy or peering into the fine lenses of a high powered microscope probing slides of tissue samples, hours or days later, at times, must make a call based on interpretation. Clearly, there are times the gross examination and subsequent morphology reveal a clear answer to the questions associated with a particular death. At other times, though, answers to profound questions require hour upon hour of arduous concentration; careful analysis of toxicology and other lab tests, painstaking review of all the accumulated evidence, and the Pathologists’ ability to connect the gross, physical and microscopic dots.

Evidence, be it the actual corpse or fiber and trace elements can quickly make or break a case. There is no room for compromise in a homicide investigation; no margin for error when investigating any death that meets the criteria for a Medical Examiners review. Any unattended death, any suicide, death by accident or unnatural causes will trigger a Medical Examiner’s intervention. All unexpected, sudden death, even an obvious suicide is automatically handed over to Homicide and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for that particular jurisdiction. Often death is not what it appears to be.

Despite their long history and the relatively high volume of unnatural deaths they process annually, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Los Angeles Coroner’s Office, seem not to have yet mastered the most elementary aspects of crime scene securement and investigation. Their blunders, missteps and sheer ineptitude have been as famous as the roster of the deceased whose ultimate fate in the judicial system was fumbled. The Forensic Pathologist and Homicide Investigators are in the sacred and unique position to speak for the deceased when the death was a matter of criminality. or even the suspicion of wrong doing. To mishandle a homicide case in any form or fashion that seriously jeopardizes the Prosecutor’s, the District Attorney’s (DA) ability to obtain righteous justice is a severe breach of the public trust and the primary duties of their Offices.

Time and time again we have seen how the gross negligence of the LAPD and “The Coroner”, has allowed the guilty to go free or the mysteries of a particular death to remain forever obscure and uncertain.

Now, it’s the cause and circumstances of the death of Michael Jackson that may be forever ambiguous due to the inability of the LAPD Homicide Unit to perform their duties properly. When will they learn? How many times must they be subjected to rightful public scorn and ridicule because of their clumsy, careless, stupidity?

The OJ Simpson murder trial has forever cemented in the public conscience the gross fallibility of the LAPD and those members entrusted with over seeing a murder investigation; actually a double murder. Nicole Brown Simpson and her acquaintance, Ronald Goldman were brutally massacred in the alleyway around Ms. Simpson’s home. The crime scene was, by all accounts, as bloody and gruesome as most cops had ever seen. Perhaps it was the shock value of the scene or just plain old incompetence but, months later, the certain killer, OJ Simpson was acquitted based largely on the sloppy and amateurish handling of the crime scene by LAPD. They were exposed to the world as a bunch of bungling, fumbling, idiotic fools. Their collective clumsiness allowed a guilty man to walk away from a double homicide charge of which there was little doubt he was in fact guilty.

Their latest series of blunders occurred at the home where Michael Jackson allegedly died or was at least in fatal distress before his death. That home, the entire property should have been immediately sealed and preserved as a crime scene. The fact that Jackson associates were able to enter and exit the property, the home and rooms within for two days after his death is beyond comprehension. The absolute need to preserve a crime scent, to maintain the security of evidence and strictly control access are fundamentals that cannot be compromised for any reason. Who knows what evidence may or may not have been tampered with or even removed and destroyed during that two day interval?

Perhaps the virtually immediate pronouncement from the LA Coroner’s Office that ‘there were no signs of foul play” set the stage for LAPD to not treat that scene as a true crime scene. In any event, simply given the high profile of the deceased and the certain media circus, legal battles and other complicating factors, one would think that all law enforcement agencies involved would have been ultra vigilant in the execution of all facets of their duties. Why leave any doubt on their end, should have been their rallying cry. From the top down every MOS should have been reminded of the importance of what they do and how this case will most definitely bring with it a level of scrutiny, analysis and publicity of unprecedented proportions.

If the LAPD and LA Coroner are this sloppy and unprofessional in their job performance processing the death of a world wide celebrity, how sloppy must they be with the unremarkable deaths that they encounter on a daily basis?


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