Dr. Crystal A. Moore, M.D./Ph.D., FCAP – 8/28/15
I am a board certified anatomic and clinical pathologist who has served as a licensed medical examiner for the state of North Carolina. Accordingly, I have acquired up close and personal knowledge concerning untimely and, often times, unseemly deaths.
There are many reasons that a medicolegal investigation of an individual’s death might fall under the jurisdiction of a state medical examiner. These reasons vary from state to state and many fall beyond the scope of this post.
The most familiar and universal reason to fall under the scrutiny of a medical examiner is to be the unfortunate victim of a known or suspected homicide. Reasons less familiar to the lay public include deaths that result from an accident, suicide, or public health threat, such as Ebola. And, for the purposes of this post, medical examiners have jurisdiction over deaths of individuals who die in jails, prisons, correctional institutions, or in police custody. This includes deaths from legal intervention, as in cases of state executions.
Deaths in Custody
The Deaths in Custody Reporting Program (DCRP) collects data on deaths that occur in the process of arrests, or while inmates are in the custody of local jails or state prisons. Arrest-related mortality data is collected through the state by a reporting coordinator. Local jail and state prison data are collected directly from jails and state correctional programs.
Sandra Bland and Freddie Gray, both young adults with the potential of full lives ahead of them, are only two names of people whose recent, untimely deaths will be collected as data on the fated roll call of the DCRP. May they rest in peace. And I am in good company when I extend my heartfelt condolences to their families.
Be sure to follow me to learn more about the role of the medical examiner in investigating deaths under medicolegal jurisdiction. In my next post I will explain the difference between manner of death and cause of death.