Mr. Shawn Parcells made national news this week when he participated in the second autopsy of Michael Brown, whose shooting death by local police on August 9, 2014 sparked significant ongoing unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.
I first wrote about Mr. Parcells in May 2013 after an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch discussed concerns some Missouri prosecuting attorneys and county coroners had that Mr. Parcells, who only has a Bachelor’s degree, was performing unsupervised forensic autopsies without the appropriate qualifications. Readers can refer to my earlier article or the Post-Dispatch piece for details.
Mr. Parcells contacted me via email a few weeks after my article went out and stated he wanted to “clear the air and present the truth”. I called him back and we spoke for about 10 or 15 minutes, and then he provided me with a written rebuttal to the Post-Dispatch story.
Fast forward to August 2014. After 18 year old Michael Brown was killed by Officer Darren Wilson, St. Louis County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Mary Case performed an autopsy. The family (or its attorney) then requested a second, private autopsy.
I was not the least bit surprised to see the family had asked Dr. Baden to perform the second autopsy, as there are very few forensic pathologists in this day and age who have the visibility and name recognition Dr. Baden has.
But I was very surprised to see Shawn Parcells standing on Dr. Baden’s right during the press conference in which the results of the second autopsy were revealed.
Media gets it very wrong
My surprise quickly turned to disappointment when I saw several large and experienced media organizations wildly misrepresent Mr. Parcells’ qualifications.