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Audit recommends further review of 100 police custody deaths in Maryland

George Floyd Officer Trial
Posted at 12:25 PM, Oct 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-19 13:08:20-04

BALTIMORE — A team of auditors are recommending further review of 100 autopsies performed on people in Maryland who died in police custody.

Each death occurred between 2002 and 2019, when Dr. David Fowler headed up the State's Medical Examiner's Office.

Fowler's work came under scrutiny after testifying as an expert defense witness during the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murdering George Floyd.

During the trial Fowler asserted Floyd's cause of death should've been ruled undetermined, as opposed to homicide.

His testimony sparked criticism, which in May of 2021 prompted Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh to assemble a team of experts to investigate Fowler's past work.

RELATED: "It's 'appropriate' for independent experts to review OCME reports regarding deaths in custody."

The auditors were specifically tasked with determining if Fowler "exhibited racial or pro-law enforcement bias," in his autopsy reports.

After assessing over 1300 in-custody deaths, the team focused on 100 particular cases that involved physical restraint.

Auditors said additional review was needed to decide whether Fowler correctly ruled on causes of death and adequately investigated each case using "protocols consistent with best practices."

The follow-up review is expected to be completed in two phases.

The first phase, will allow reviewers to access medical examiner case files and give their own opinion about each cause of death.

In the second phase, the reviewers will meet to discuss each case and attempt to reach a consensus on key questions like the quality of the investigation, and its conclusions regarding cause and manner of death.