Work of Expert Who Testified for Chauvin to Be Examined

Maryland to review in-custody deaths from David Fowler's tenure as medical examiner
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2021 2:00 PM CDT
Testimony for Chauvin Puts Expert's Work in Doubt: Doctors
Dr. David Fowler listens to a question during the trial of Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis.   (Court TV via AP, Pool)

Dr. David Fowler's testimony about the death of George Floyd was so far removed from mainstream forensic practice that a review of his past work for Maryland should be conducted, hundreds of doctors have told the state. The state Attorney General's Office agreed that an investigation is needed, the Baltimore Sun reports, after receiving a letter signed by 431 physicians. The letter, which came from Roger Mitchell, a former Washington, DC, medical examiner, criticized Fowler's testimony in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin that Floyd's death "should be certified with an 'undetermined' manner." The letter added that that opinion "raises significant concerns for his previous practice and management." Fowler was Maryland's chief medical examiner for 17 years, retiring in 2019.

All cases involving in-custody deaths from 2003 to 2020 will be reviewed, the Attorney General’s Office said. Independent experts will review the cases, with the Attorney General's Office coordinating the effort, per WJZ. While several experts told the Minneapolis court that a lack of oxygen killed Floyd—Chauvin had kept his knee on Floyd's neck for more than 9 minutes—Fowler testified that the cause of death was a sudden heart rhythm problem due to heart disease. Chauvin was convicted Tuesday in the case. Fowler said Friday that when he held the Maryland office, he wasn't the only person determining cause of death. "There's a large team of forensic pathologists, with layers of supervision, and those medical examiners always did tremendous work," he said. (Read more George Floyd stories.)

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