Md. Attorney General: Audit into former medical examiner now underway

Maryland’s attorney general confirmed Friday that an audit into the work of the state’s former chief medical examiner is underway.

Attorney General Brian Frosh said his office is working with the office of Gov. Larry Hogan to examine the validity of work done by the Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) under the supervision of Dr. David Fowler.

Fowler’s office had been accused of working with police to minimize officer involvement in the deaths of people in police custody. His work at OCME had already been criticized when Fowler offered a testimony for the defense at the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty of second-degree homicide in the death of George Floyd in police custody.

The testimony Fowler provided — in which he argued that Chauvin was not guilty of killing Floyd — led to the penning of an open letter from medical professionals to Frosh, calling for an investigation into Fowler’s previous work on in-custody deaths.

In a statement to WTOP last month, Fowler said, “I stand by all of the findings made by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the staff who work there.”

The family of Anton Black, a Black 19-year-old from the Eastern Shore who died while in police custody in 2018, has brought a suit that, in part, accuses Fowler of shifting responsibility away from the responding officers in Black’s death.

Black’s family expressed concern for the audit, because as attorney general, Frosh’s office is responsible for representing Fowler in the suit, as it is a direct result of his work at OCME.

Frosh previously said the office would work to keep those involved with the audit separate from those charged with defending Fowler. The attorney general’s most recent statement says the office remains committed to ensuring the integrity of the audit.

“We are committed to overseeing a professional and independent audit that adheres to the highest standards of impartiality and integrity,” Frosh said in a statement. “We will be consulting experts, examining similar audits in other jurisdictions, and doing a preliminary review of OCME data and protocols.”

Frosh said his office is inviting anyone affected by the focus of the audit or those who are interested or have expertise in the work to offer input. Comments can be submitted by June 7, 2021 by emailing OCMEaudit@oag.md.us, or sent by mail to 200 St. Paul Place, Baltimore, Maryland 21202.

Maryland Matters’ Hannah Gaskill contributed to this report.

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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