110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Complaint filed against Volusia medical examiner
By Pat Andrews
posted Sep 27, 2013 - 5:45:13pm
A complaint filed with the state by the former wife of Marlon Brown claims the Volusia County Medical Examiner's Office misrepresented facts about Brown's death under the wheels of a DeLand Police Department cruiser.
In her Sept. 27 letter to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Medical Examiner Commission, Krystal Brown said the doctor who autopsied Brown told her he concluded Brown had died in a "traumatic homicide," but that his boss told him not to put that conclusion in the official report.
That doctor, Shiping Bao, was fired five days before his boss, Medical Examiner Dr. Marie Hermann, finalized the Brown report.
In that report, Herrmann listed the cause of death as an accident, concluding that Marlon Brown had suffocated after he "slipped and fell and then the police car came to a stop on top of him."
The crash that killed Brown happened in Spring Hill in DeLand at the end of a brief pursuit by two officers from the DeLand Police Department.
Brown jumped out of his car and was run over by one of the police vehicles as he ran through a grassy lot at the end of a dead-end street in Spring Hill. Brown did not have a driver's license and was on probation. He panicked at the thought of going back to jail, passengers in his vehicle told investigators.
On Sept. 12, the State Attorney's Office announced that a grand jury had determined the officer driving the car that ran over Brown should not be criminally charged. The officer was fired May 31 by the DeLand Police Department.
Since the State Attorney's announcement, Brown's family has challenged the investigation of his death and is calling for a new, independent examination.
Krystal Brown's latest letter follows a Sept. 24 press conference at which the DeLand funeral director who prepared Marlon Brown's body for burial also questioned some of the medical examiner's conclusions.
Mortician James Cusack said, for example, that Brown's body did have broken bones, while the ME's report said there were none.
The family also questions what evidence the grand jury considered. By law, the grand jury's proceedings are secret. It's unknown, for example, whether jurors watched the video recording from the DeLand police cruiser's dashboard camera.
Krystal Brown's letter to the Medical Examiner Commission says Dr. Herrmann's conclusions about Marlon Brown's death "defy common sense, and seemingly scientific principles." She noted the conclusions are directly contradicted by the dash-cam video that "clearly depicts the vehicle striking and running over Mr. Brown."
Krystal Brown told The Beacon Sept. 27 that she was able to speak with Dr. Shiping Bao a couple of weeks ago. He talked to her as a courtesy to the family, she said.
The Beacon has not been able to talk to Bao. His attorney, Willie Gary, has not returned calls.
Krystal Brown is calling for the Medical Examiner's Commission to remove or suspend Herrmann, alleging that the medical examiner's report constitutes a "… material misrepresentation of data upon which an opinion or conclusion as a medical examiner is based," and negligence.
Volusia County's letter of termination to Bao was dated Aug. 23. Herrmann signed the Brown autopsy report Aug. 28.
Krystal Brown and the family's attorney Benjamin Crump delivered the letter of complaint to the Medical Examiner's Commission in Tallahassee Sept. 27, Crump spokesman Ryan Julison said.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokeswoman Samantha Andrews confirmed the commission received the letter.
"Our staff is reviewing the complaint," she said, and will make a preliminary inquiry to see if the complaint is legally sufficient to convene a probable cause panel at the Medical Examiner's Commission.
The FDLE provides support to the commission, Andrews explained.
If the complaint is sufficient, the panel will review all materials and evidence in the case, to determine if there have been any violations of Florida Statute 406, which governs the conduct of medical examiners.
If a violation were to be found, Andrews said, the decision about what to do would be up to Volusia County, because of the county's home-rule charter.
In many counties, the commission would discipline an ME found in violation. However, unlike many other counties whose MEs are appointed by the governor, Herrmann is an employee of the County of Volusia.
County Manager Jim Dinneen was not in his office Sept. 27, and was unavailable for comment. The Medical Examiner's Office has declined to comment on any of the Brown family's allegations.
County spokesman Dave Byron had no comment other than, "The autopsy speaks for itself," his office assistant said.
Why is Krystal Brown pursuing this?
"If it was your loved one, you'd want the same thing," she said.
Krystal Brown said she is looking for justice and truth.
The Brown family, including Krystal and Marlon's three children, settled with the City of DeLand's insurance company in August, and is now prohibited from pursuing any wrongful-death actions against the city or its employees.
Marlon Brown was a well-known and popular barber in the Spring Hill community, who in recent years had had some run-ins with the law. His family and friends celebrated his 39th birthday Sept. 22 with a picnic in the park and release of balloons.
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