|From The File
Air Force Medical Examiner: Brown Should Have Had Autopsy
Associated Press December 5, 1997
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A military medical examiner said Thursday that an autopsy should have been performed on Commerce Secretary Ron Brown after he died in a plane crash to investigate a suspicious skull wound.
Authorities considered but ruled out the possibility that Brown had been shot. No autopsy was performed, and authorities concluded that Brown died of injuries sustained in the 1996 crash in Croatia.
Air Force Lt. Col. Steve Cogswell, a deputy medical examiner at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, said Thursday he believes the head wound could have been caused by a bullet from a .45-caliber gun.
Cogswell said the wound "deserved further investigation." He declined to comment at length, saying an account of his views published Tuesday in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pa., had caused a stir among his superiors in the Air Force.
Cogswell acknowledged that he did not examine Brown's body.
The Tribune-Review reported that at professional conferences and at FBI agent training courses Cogswell has presented the handling of the Brown head wound as an example of "mistakes and failures in forensic pathology."
The military pathologist who examined Brown's body concluded he died from multiple blunt force injuries as a result of the crash.
At the Pentagon, spokesman Michael Doubleday said the director of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Col. Michael Dickerson, as well as the pathologist who examined Brown's body, Col. William Gormley, stand by their conclusion.
Christopher Kelly, public affairs officer at the institute, said officials had conducted a "full discussion" of Brown's injuries, including the head wound, and had ruled out the possibility of a gunshot.
"This is a closed case," Kelly said.
Brown's son, Michael, said he had no comment.
Cogswell, a forensic pathologist, examined the mountaintop crash scene five days after the disaster in which Brown and 34 others died. He told the Tribune-Review he believed the wound was suspicious based on photographs and X-rays of the remains and conversations with those who examined the corpse.
Cogswell called the wound, at the top of Brown's head, "as close to a perfectly circular hole as you can get," and said it had the characteristics of a gunshot wound.
Gormley told the newspaper he discounted the gunshot possibility because the skull was not penetrated and there was no exit wound.
Erich Junger, then the institute's chief forensic scientist and who observed Gormley's examination, said he saw no evidence of a gunshot wound. He said a piece of the aircraft or its contents likely hit Brown's head.
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