The Brown family “forensic pathologist” Shawn Parcells is no stranger to controversy. Parcells has neither a medical degree nor a license to practice medicine, yet for years the self-described “professor” with only a Bachelor’s degree in Life Sciences/Chemistry has operated a pathology consulting business which began with his on-the-job experience as a technician in a morgue cleaning up after autopsies. To bolster his image, Parcells has even gone so far as to invent nonexistent resume padding and a very official sounding title “forensic pathological assistant.”
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has chronicled growing concerns in the medical community whether Parcells has inflated his credentials or even performed autopsies without a license. Back in 2012, St. Louis medical examiner Dr. Mary Case warned of the serious ramifications flowing from allegations tainting Parcells’ pathological services: “It’s very bad for our state if there’s someone doing autopsies without a medical license,” she said. “This is a huge atrocity, an invitation to disaster, and it needs to stop.”
Forensic pathologist Dr. Erik Mitchell has flatly stated that “Parcells is practicing medicine without a license,” which if done in Missouri could be regarded as a misdemeanor crime. Dr. Gregory Schmunk, then president of the National Association of Medical Examiners, and long time critic of Parcells has asserted Parcells lacks standing to offer expert testimony. “Mr. Parcells can get all the on-the-job training that he wants, but until he is properly certified, there is no way that he should be allowed to testify in any court in this land,” Schmunk said in 2012. “We cannot be sending people to prison for any period of time based upon the testimony of someone who has had on-the-job training.”
His controversial past in Missouri has not stopped Parcells from returning, and again controversy follows him. Days ago in a press conference on Michael Brown, Parcells indicated the cause of Brown’s death were two gunshots to his head, that that they were the last ones fired, and specifically that the shot to the top of the head killed Brown. Contrast Parcells’ statements on the cause of Brown’s death with a different 2012 controversy in which a deputy coroner accused Parcells of of performing an autopsy on a murder victim, which presumably would constitute practicing medicine. Back then Parcells argued that his role of dissecting and removing organs from the corpse did not qualify as an autopsy, saying “an autopsy is the diagnosis of the cause and manner of death; I’m not doing that.”
It is unclear, and the Media has not sought clarification, whether Parcells intends to testify in a court of law on Michael Brown’s cause of death, or if his press conference statements were instead intended to inflame the court of public opinion in the midst of the turmoil and rioting in Ferguson. Ironically for Michael Brown’s family, the controversy surrounding Parcells may harm any criminal prosecution of Officer Darren Wilson. For example, offering opinions contradicting those of the State’s medical examiner could generate “reasonable doubt” of Officer Wilson’s guilt. Parcells’ participation could also raise distracting, and to the prosecution harmful, side issues as has happened in past cases.
Ignored in all of this medical theatre is the fact that the only Missouri state-licensed forensic pathologist to have examined Michael Brown’s intact body is Dr. Mary Case, the medical examiner for St. Louis county. Neither Parcells nor Dr. Baden are licensed to practice medicine in Missouri. The DOJ has not revealed the qualifications of its expert from Delaware.
And lost amid the media-fueled racist theories and nightly mob-ruled looting sprees is a police officer who remains in hiding because the wheels of justice have gone off the rails taking the presumption of innocence with it on a wild political joy-ride hell bent for the November ballot box.
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