Examiner who performed Andrew Brown autopsy previously had license suspended, accused of mishandling prior investigation
Chuck Ross, DCNF
- The family of Andrew Brown Jr., a black man killed by police this month, has said a private autopsy shows that he was “executed” by police.
- The pathologist who performed the autopsy, Brent Hall, had his medical license temporarily suspended in 2018, records show. He resigned from a county position in 2013 amid allegations that he mishandled information from two autopsies.
- Benjamin Crump, a lawyer representing Brown’s family, said that Hall’s autopsy showed that Brown sustained “a kill shot to the back of the head.”
- Crump has used other autopsy-for-hire firms in the past, most notably in the case of Michael Brown.
The forensic pathologist hired to perform an autopsy on Andrew Brown Jr., a black man sheriff’s deputies killed in North Carolina earlier this month, resigned under scrutiny as a county medical examiner in 2013 and had his medical license temporarily suspended in 2018, according to filings with the North Carolina state medical board.
Brent Hall, who runs an autopsy-for-hire company called Autopsy PC, said in his autopsy report that Brown was shot five times, including once in the back of the head.
Brown’s family members and their legal team, led by Benjamin Crump, hired Hall to perform a private autopsy on Brown. They cited the autopsy results as evidence that Brown was executed by police.
“Yesterday, I said he was executed,” Brown’s son, Khalil Ferebee, said at a press conference Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. “This autopsy report shows me that’s correct.”
Brown, 42, was shot inside his vehicle after sheriff’s deputies attempted to serve him an arrest warrant outside his home in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, on the morning of April 21.
The incident has sparked protests from social justice activists who are calling for the release of additional details of the shooting.
The FBI office in Charlotte opened a civil rights investigation into the incident Tuesday.
The Brown family has said that Brown did not pose a threat to the deputies when he was shot. One lawyer for the family said Tuesday that Brown was sitting with his hands on his steering wheel when deputies shot him.
Andrew Womble, the district attorney for Pasquotank County, disputed the claim during a court hearing on Wednesday. He said that police body camera footage shows that Brown made contact with two law enforcement officers with his vehicle before they opened fire on him.
A judge rejected an appeal from media outlets on Wednesday to release body cam footage of the incident.
Without the footage or an official autopsy report from the North Carolina state medical examiner, Hall’s private report has shaped public perception of the shooting.
“It’s obvious he was trying to get away. It’s obvious. And they’re going to shoot him in the back of the head?” Ferebee, Brown’s son, said Tuesday.
“It was a kill shot to the back of the head,” said Crump, a Brown family lawyer.
Crump has represented the families of numerous police shooting victims. A Daily Caller analysis found that Crump has a long history of pushing false information about police shootings.
He claimed last week that Ma’Khia Bryant, a Columbus, Ohio teenager, was unarmed when she was shot and killed by a police officer. Video footage of the shooting showed that Bryant was shot after she attempted to stab another girl.
Hall has had various legal problems and career setbacks over the past decade. He was charged in 2010 and 2018 with driving under the influence of alcohol, news reports show. His medical license was suspended after he acknowledged that he struggled with alcohol dependence, according to filings with the North Carolina medical board.
On Aug. 5, 2011, Hall agreed not to practice medicine until he received approval from the North Carolina state medical board. He was allowed to continue practicing on Jan. 15, 2012, according to a filing with the board.
Hall resigned as medical examiner for five counties in 2013, after he was accused of failing to act on evidence of a carbon monoxide leak at a Best Western hotel in Boone, North Carolina.
Hall had been notified that an elderly couple who stayed at the hotel had died from carbon monoxide poisoning. A week after receiving the information, an 11-year-old boy died from carbon monoxide poisoning in the same room, ABC News reported at the time.
The family of the boy accused Hall of mishandling the investigation into the deaths of the elderly couple, according to The Charlotte Observer. The boy’s parents reached a financial settlement with the state of North Carolina in 2019, The Observer reported.
Hall was also arrested and charged with a DUI and with attempting to bribe a police officer, according to a local news report at the time. He agreed to a 90-day suspension of his medical license on Oct. 25, 2018, according to an agreement he made with the North Carolina Medical Board.
Hall did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The North Carolina office of the medical examiner also did not respond to a request for comment about Hall’s findings.
Crump has used private autopsy reports to cement narratives about other police shooting cases he has handled.
In 2014, he hired Michael Baden, a prominent forensic pathologist, to conduct an autopsy on Michael Brown, the black teenager killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
Baden and his assistant, Shawn Parcells, determined that Michael Brown was shot six times. They said the shot that killed Brown struck him towards the back of the top of his head. Crump had by that point pushed the allegation that Brown was shot as he was holding his hands up to surrender.
Eyewitnesses to the shooting later disputed the claim in interviews with investigators.
Crump seized on the Michael Brown autopsy findings to claim that officer Darren Wilson executed the teenager. He said that the family commissioned the autopsy because they did not trust local police to accurately assess “the tragic execution of their child.”
Parcells fed into Crump’s narrative during a press conference announcing the results of the private autopsy. He said that his and Baden’s findings were “consistent” with claims that Michael Brown was walking away from Wilson when he was shot.
The Justice Department later determined that the shooting was justified. A report of the investigation contradicted Parcells’ claim that Michael Brown may have been moving away from Wilson.
“Brown was moving toward Wilson when Wilson shot him,” the Justice Department report said.
The St. Louis County medical examiner told the Daily Caller at the time that Parcells had an “abysmal” track record in the field of forensic pathology.
Parcells was indicted on Nov. 18, 2020, on fraud charges related to his autopsy-for-hire business. Federal prosecutors allege that Parcells scammed hundreds of clients out of more than $1 million from 2016 to 2019.
Crump’s law office did not respond to a request for comment.