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Autopsy Initiative

Free Autopsies for Police-Related Deaths

FAQ

What is

an autopsy?

An autopsy is a medical examination conducted to determine an individual’s cause of death. 

What is a forensic pathologist?

A forensic pathologist is a medical examiner who determines the cause of death in an autopsy. 

Is the

autopsy free?

Yes. The Autopsy Initiative will fully cover the cost of an autopsy if you are selected for the initiative.

Who can complete the Autopsy Request?

The Autopsy Request may be completed by anyone with a close relationship with the victim, which may include the victim’s spouse, partner, relative, close friend, or lawyer.

When should an individual complete the autopsy request?

We urge the victim’s family member or attorney to complete the autopsy request and contact us as soon as possible, ideally within 1-3 days following the death before embalming and burial. However, cases reported after a longer period of time will still be reviewed for acceptance. 

Who can participate in the Autopsy Initiative?

The victim’s legal representative and/or other authorized individual can participate in the Autopsy Initiative. Only the victim’s legal representative and/or other authorized individual can legally authorize the autopsy.

How is an individual selected for the Autopsy Initiative?

In order to be selected, the victim’s family member must be the victim’s legal representative and/or other authorized individual and the victim’s death must occur in a manner set forth in the Initiative’s definition of a police-related death. Additionally, the examination of the victim's body during a secondary autopsy must provide a reasonable likelihood of the pathologist obtaining a definitive diagnosis for the victim’s true cause of death.

If selected, the Program Manager will send you an Acceptance Letter to your email address and call you at the phone number provided in the Autopsy Request.​​ If your contact information has changed since completing the Autopsy Request, please contact us through our contact information provided on our Contact Page.

What services are provided through the Autopsy Initiative? 

The services provided through the Initiative include the completion of a second autopsy, disclosure of preliminary findings, and issuance of a final autopsy report. 
Autopsy Request

What are the preliminary findings?

The preliminary findings include the pathologists’ findings from the second autopsy, without reviewing the first autopsy report. The pathologists will evaluate the circumstances on a case-by-case basis. The preliminary findings may be subject to change based on newly obtained evidence revealed in the first autopsy report, including but not limited to autopsy photographs and eyewitness reports.

How will I obtain the final autopsy report?

When the final autopsy report is prepared, the Program Manager will email the victim’s family member the final autopsy report. The Program Manager will also call the victim’s family member informing them that the autopsy report has been emailed.