CNN Investigates Michael Brown Autopsy Assistant Now, After Months Of Using Him As An Expert

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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An assistant medical examiner who helped perform a private autopsy on Michael Brown and whose medical credentials were called into question by CNN this week wonders why the network is only now bringing accusations against him to light.

“Why are you guys bringing this old stuff up, but yet you guys used me on your program several times?” Shawn Parcells, the Kansas-based assistant examiner, said of CNN in an interview with The Daily Caller on Friday.

Parcells aided forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden in the Aug. 17 autopsy on Brown, who was shot to death on Aug. 9 by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson.

The CNN report aired Wednesday, two days after a St. Louis County grand jury decided against indicting Wilson in Brown’s death.

After their four hour autopsy, Baden and Parcells determined that Wilson had shot Brown six times.

The autopsy findings were announced the day after the examination in a high-profile press conference at which Parcells took center stage. Introducing himself at the press conference as a professor, Parcells became a prominent figure in the case, conducting numerous interviews to discuss the findings of the autopsy.

Parcells appeared on all of the major cable TV networks, but showed up most frequently on CNN. He was interviewed multiple times on Anderson Cooper 360, and by Jake Tapper and Ashleigh Banfield. He also made at least two appearances on HLN with Nancy Grace.

But in its investigation, the very same network that cited Parcells so often found that he had embellished his academic background and that he conducted a 2012 autopsy in Missouri without a licensed pathologist present.

Two Andrew County, Missouri sheriff’s deputies told CNN that Parcells represented himself as a medical doctor during an autopsy he conducted on 74-year-old Robert Forrester. Doctors said Forrester had died from bleeding of the brain, but police suspected he had been killed by his 23-year-old grandson, Bobby Forrester.

But because Parcells was not a pathologist, and because the autopsy on the elder Forrester was not signed by a doctor, the sheriff’s office was unable to use the results of the examination to proceed with a criminal case against the grandson.

Forrester was released from custody after a four-day mental health evaluation. Nine months later he assaulted his grandmother.

CNN also reported that Parcells falsely claimed to be a professor at Washburn University in Topeka, Kan. and that he claimed to have earned a master’s degree from New York Chiropractic College. A Washburn University spokeswoman disputed Parcells’ professorship claim. He was also forced to admit to CNN that he does not have a graduate degree.

The raw material for CNN’s exposé was reported more than a year ago.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported last May on the 2012 autopsy which CNN followed up on. The paper also raised questions about Parcells’ claim that he is an adjunct professor at Wichita State University. An administrator at the school has disputed that claim, though Parcells told TheDC that he could produce emails proving he is an unpaid adjunct professor there. (RELATED: St. Louis Medical Examiner SLAMS Brown Family Hire)

The Post-Dispatch also laid out other accusations against Parcells, including that an autopsy report issued by his company bore the signature of a pathologist who claims that he never signed the document.

Parcells also listed himself as an FPA, a Forensic Pathologist Assistant, a term he admitted to the Post-Dispatch that he made up himself.

“I can tell you absolutely that I find what Parcells does to be abysmal,” St. Louis County chief medical examiner, Dr. Mary Case, told TheDC in August.

“He is doing forensic autopsies which may send someone to prison, and he is not a physician, much less a forensic pathologist,” Case continued, adding that professionals in the field of forensic pathology “are shocked by this man and how bold he is to do what he does.”

Despite ample public evidence against Parcells, he told TheDC that when he was making the rounds on the TV circuit to discuss the Brown autopsy, networks never asked about his professional past.

“I was expecting them to ask, but they never did,” Parcells said.

Besides CNN, where he did TV spots as recently as this month, Parcells has also appeared on MSNBC and Fox News, albeit less frequently.

Parcells interpreted the invitations he was receiving from the major networks as evidence that his credentials had received a seal of approval.

“None of [the major networks] have asked about my credentials or anything,” Parcells claimed triumphantly in a phone interview with TheDC on Aug. 21.

The forensics assistant singled out a producer for Nancy Grace’s show who said, according to Parcells, “Why would we question you when Dr. Baden is allowing you to work on this case with him?”

Grace has largely criticized Wilson’s version of events leading up to Brown’s death. She has said that Wilson’s story “doesn’t add up.”

“Look, you’re going to smudge my name? Then do it back in August,” Parcells complained to TheDC of CNN’s report.

To be clear, Parcells does not believe that he deserves the heat. He claims that the long list of accusations pending against him are either misunderstandings, honest mistakes, or the machinations of jealous competitors.

Parcells said that one Kansas City forensic pathologist, Dr. Erik Mitchell, “wouldn’t mind if I was dead.” Parcells believes that Mitchell and other forensic pathologists are upset with him because he takes their business.

Parcells told TheDC that the questions raised about his past were discussed with Baden and the Brown family attorneys only after the autopsy had been completed. It is unclear whether Baden knew about Parcells’ history, though in his grand jury testimony earlier this month he said that he had no idea who Parcells was until they met on the day of the examination.

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