Md. medical examiner’s office audit comprises international experts

Seven behavioral and forensics professionals have been named to design the audit of Maryland’s medical examiner’s office, which will examine the in-custody death determinations during the tenure of its former chief.

Dr. David Fowler was the chief medical examiner at the Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner from 2002 to 2019. In April, he testified for the defense in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer convicted in the killing of George Floyd.

Fowler testified that Floyd died of a sudden heart rhythm disturbance as a result of his heart disease, and contributing to that were drugs in Floyd’s system and possibly carbon monoxide poisoning from the auto exhaust, The Associated Press reported. Meanwhile, multiple experts testified that Floyd succumbed to a lack of oxygen from the way Chauvin pinned him down.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said in a news release that the design team will shape the scope and methodology of the audit, including the manner in which cases for review will be chosen.

“Once that task is complete, the Attorney General, in consultation with Governor Hogan’s Office of Legal Counsel, will then proceed to selecting members of the review panel that will conduct the audit,” Frosh’s statement said.

The members of the team are:

  • Stephen Cordner, who has been teaching, training and writing in forensic pathology, as well as serving as the head of Australia’s Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine’s international program.
  • Pathologist Professor Jack Crane, who recently has been appointed as the pathologist to advise in the Manchester Arena bombing in England.
  • Deborah Davis, a professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. She has focused predominantly on applications of psychology in the legal system.
  • Itiel Dror, who specializes in human cognition and expert decision making. Dror has worked closely with many crime labs examining cognitive and human factors in forensic work, and providing training and methods for reducing bias and improving forensic decisions.
  • Dr. Michael Freeman, a consultant in forensic medicine and forensic epidemiology. He is a professor of forensic medicine and epidemiology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.
  • William Thompson, a professor emeritus at the University of California, Irvine. He holds a doctorate in psychology and a juris doctor.
  • Dr. Alfredo E. Walker, a registered forensic pathologist of the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service.

“The seven members of the design team have a wealth of experience in forensic pathology and behavioral science,” Frosh said, adding that they will be drawing on their collective national and international expertise.

In May, Frosh said that his office would be working with the governor’s office to examine the validity of the work done by the medical examiner’s office under Fowler.

Fowler is the subject of a lawsuit wherein he is accused of helping cover up the police’s role in the 2018 in-custody death of Anton Black, a Black 19-year-old from the Eastern Shore.

Editor’s note: Dr. David Fowler is the subject of a lawsuit over the death of Anton Black. This story has been updated. 

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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