A Kansas doctor is disputing claims made by Shawn Parcells, a forensics assistant who was brought on to help conduct an autopsy on Michael Brown and who became a frequent guest on cable television to discuss the case.
Parcells assisted Dr. Michael Baden in the Brown autopsy conducted on Aug. 17, more than a week after Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot the 18 year old.
At a press conference held by attorneys for the Brown family the day after the autopsy was completed, Parcells introduced himself as “Professor” and was later identified as a “forensic pathologist” by numerous media outlets.
But questions soon emerged over Parcells’ resume and his work in the medical field.
In June 2004, as Parcells was trying to get into medical school at St. George’s University in the Caribbean, he wrote of his experience shadowing Dr. April McVey, a neurology professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center.
Though the claims Parcells made on the message board do not appear to have benefited his career, they mark one of the first instances of what appears to be Parcells’ penchant for over-inflating his credentials and work history.
“Not to brag, but just last week I was in Neurology Clinic. I was working with Dr. McVey who is the Neurology Residency coordinator at KU Medical Center. I was in memory disorder clinic and she flat out told me that if I get into medical school and pass I have a spot waiting for me as a Neurology Resident at KU. Now, in my mind she feels I can make it…”
The Daily Caller contacted McVey, who still works at the medical school.
“I have a vague disturbing feeling about this guy from years ago,” McVey said through email. “I am absolutely certain I didn’t say he had a job waiting at KU.”
McVey shared emails she sent in 2004 which referenced Parcells, who now owns a forensics business in Leawood, Kan.
“Shawn Parcells contacted me several months ago and asked if he could observe in my dementia clinic,” McVey wrote to an unnamed colleague in the 2004 email. “He is pleasant and sincere and behaved appropriately in my clinic, except for the time he asked if he could bring his girlfriend along.”
While McVey said she found Parcells’ determination “commendable,” she also said he was “a bit of a ‘wheeler-dealer.'”
“He has a website and has listed his time as an observer as ‘internships,'” McVey wrote.
McVey’s recollection matches that of other forensics professionals, including Dr. Thomas Young, a former medical examiner for Jackson, Mo., County.
“Shawn hung out at the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s office but was not trained by me,” Young told a reporter in August. “He has been representing himself in a way that is not appropriate by giving forensic pathology opinions when he is not qualified to do so.”
A 2011 article from the Topeka Capital-Journal lists Parcells as having taken graduate-level courses at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Shadowing doctors, as Parcells appears to have done at the medical school, generally does not count as graduate-level work. Parcells now says he never told the Capital-Journal reporter he took graduate courses at the school.
Another University of Kansas doctor, who McVey did not name, contacted her in 2004 to share concerns he had with Parcells.
“I spoke with a family friend who employed Shawn for about 6 weeks this year,” the doctor wrote. “He was quite concerned to hear that Shawn was approaching physicians here at KU about getting involved in patient care. Apparently this guy has quite a history of lying and schmoozing very convincingly to get access to health care experience, and seems to have a concerning interest in pathology and mortuary science as well. There are some questions about him performing embalming without a license, and he has apparently been “banned” from our own pathology department, where he volunteered for a period of time.”
“I am concerned that this guy will slip through the cracks and get into medical school, but I’m not sure if there’s anything we can do to stop him,” the doctor continued, while acknowledging he had never met Parcells.
McVey told TheDC a cardiologist at the medical school suggested at the time that she contact the school’s legal department for advice.
“I ended up telling [Parcells] I couldn’t accommodate him in the Memory Disorders Clinic,” McVey said.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch first brought Parcells’ inconsistencies to light last year. And after Parcells became a public face in the Brown case, other outlets, including TheDC, began digging into his professional history, finding numerous critics of his work as well as holes in his resume. (RELATED: St. Louis County Medical Examiner SLAMS Brown Family Hire)
CNN, which hosted Parcells numerous times after he assisted with the autopsy on Brown, peeked into his past only last week. In its investigation, CNN found that, contrary to what he has claimed, he is not a professor at Washburn Univesity in Kansas. He also conducted an autopsy in 2012 without a doctor present, thus slowing down a homicide investigation in Missouri. (RELATED: CNN Investigates Brown Family Autopsy Assistant)
As for his issues at the University of Kansas Medical School, Parcells told TheDC he was banned from the pathology department not because of any work-related issues but because of an incident surrounding a doctor’s pager.
“I was banned from pathology and the reason was is because a doctors pager was in the morgue and I found it. Concerned someone would take it, I brought it to the secretary at pathology and gave it to her. However, I didn’t let that physician know they had it,” Parcells told TheDC.
Parcells said the next week he learned the doctor did not want him around the facility “because he had to buy a new pager and let everyone know the new number.”
“He hated me for that and has ever since,” said Parcells. “After that I wasn’t able to come back to the pathology department.”
He also denied ever having embalmed a body.
“I have never done any embalming at all,” said Parcells. “I have witnessed embalming, but that is it. Never have I ever done any embalming on my own.”
“I don’t think it is fair to judge me based on someone that sent [McVey] an email and [is] not named,” said Parcells.