|From The File
Statement from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology
Regarding the Ron Brown Case
The Armed Forces Institute or [sic] Pathology (AFIP) stands by its findings that former Commerce Secretary Ron Brown died as a result of injuries suffered in the crash of an Air Force CT-43 aircraft in Croatia on April 3, 1996. "Based on my personal examination and the forensic evidence, I am convinced that he died of injuries sustained during the mishap," said Col. (Dr.) William T. Gormley, assistant armed forces medical examiner.
Recent reports suggest that Brown could have been shot prior to the accident and that an autopsy should have been performed. The reports also say an x-ray of Brown's skull contains metal fragments consistent with a gun shot wound. Gormley confirmed the forensic evidence and his personal examination rule out the possibility of a gunshot wound.
"Due to the initial appearance of Brown's injuries," he said, "we carefully considered the possibility of a gunshot wound. However, scientific data, including x-rays, ruled out that possibility," Gormley said.
The alleged "bullet fragments" were actually caused by a defect in the reusable x-ray film cassette, Gormley explained. Medical examiners took multiple x-rays using multiple cassettes and confirmed this finding.
Gormley confirmed there was no gun shot wound, and therefore concluded there was no need for further examination. Had there been the slightest suspicion regarding the nature of Brown's death -- or the death of any other person on the aircraft -- medical examiners would have pursued permission to perform a full internal examination, Gormley said.
Regarding the comments made by LtCol Steven Cogswell and LTC David Hause of the Office of the Armed forces Medical Examiner (OAFME), all AFIP staff members are supposed to coordinate media activities through the public affairs office. Neither man's comments in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review are those of the Institute, nor were they coordinated with the Institute, and do not reflect AFIP's findings in the case. They've been directed to follow standard procedure and refer media inquiries to the public affairs office during normal working hours.
Punitive actions have not been taken against Dr. Cogswell and he is not under house arrest. The Institute has convened an internal investigation to make sure that no other internal policies or procedures were violated -- unrelated to the forensic findings -- and it is important that Dr. Cogswell be available during this review. He's therefore been directed to stay at his normal duty station during regular working hours.
"These reports bring unnecessary grief to the families of those who died in this tragic accident," Lt.Gen. (Dr.) Charles H. Roadman II, the Air Force surgeon general said. "The Air Force and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology offer our sympathies to the families of all those killed for this undue intrusion into their private lives."
Department of Defense Armed Forces Institute of Pathology Washington, DC 20306-6000 Contact: Chris Kelly, AFIP Public Affairs Director (202) 782-2115 December 9, 1997
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