Inquest into death of an Independent Coroner’s office = suspicious circumstances

Is the County really looking to save money…or have the good ol’ boys from EPD finally disposed of the only independently non law “enforcement” office to look into the questionable deaths that EPD or other Law Enforcement have had a hand in?

This question is vitally important for Humboldt County. Now that the Sheriff’s Office and Coroner’s Office have been merged, the way in which deaths are investigated will be completely changed. Law Enforcement investigates deaths in regards to whether a crime has occurred. The Coroner investigates what caused the death. That can be vitally important, especially in regards to in-custody deaths of inmates. In fact, the deaths of Martin Cotton and Daren Borges are perfect examples of why there should be an independent Coroner. Unfortunately, for the past decade two former Eureka Police Department detectives have held the job, and the credibility of the office has suffered.

jager

Mayor Frank Jager as Coroner (ncj)

 

Dave Parris as Coroner

Dave Parris as Coroner

 

During the time that both Jager and Parris were in office as Coroner, the drums of consolidation were beating. In fact, back in 2009 the Office almost went away:

http://humboldtherald.wordpress.com/2009/03/24/saved-coroner-remains-elected-position/

For many people, switching a Coroner’s Office from being run by these two good ol’ boys to an office run by another good ol’ boy (Downey) isn’t that big a deal. And put in those terms, it isn’t much of a change. However, if Humboldt were to elect an independent Coroner who wasn’t connected with the local police there could be some sweeping changes in the way that in-custody and officer-involved deaths are handled. For instance, if some on dies in the jail and had bruising all over, a Coroner would include such findings in the official documents regarding the cause of death. The Coroner could call for an Inquest and question the officer and witnesses about the events that led up to the death. The public may be able to have a clearer picture of what causes the death of inmates or arrestee’s. And that’s just for starters.

The role of the coroner is broader in nature than law enforcement. The coroner is concerned with establishing the manner and cause of death in all unknown-cause deaths. The importance of the coroner’s investigation is not diminished if a crime has not occurred. The difference between a suicide and an accident can often be very important to the victim’s family. Many insurance policies will not pay off on a suicide. Also, some life insurance policies pay double or triple the value of the life insurance policy if the insured’s death is ruled an accident. Thus, the coroner’s role is more extensive than that of law enforcement officers.

If someone is slowly poisoned to death by a family member, law enforcement may miss it because the death was made to look like a suicide. A coroner, who’s only job is to find out what caused the death, may look a little deeper into what happened.

Losing this Office will end up being a complete disservice in Humboldt. Does anyone really think Sheriff Downey will do a good enough job investigating deaths in his own jail? Below are some links to stories showing the power that an independent Coroner has:

http://articles.latimes.com/1990-04-14/local/me-937_1_stun-gun

http://www.noladefender.com/content/coroner-introduces-new-rules-police-shootings

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/fredy-villanueva-s-mother-says-her-son-was-not-a-thug-1.2466825

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Kelly_Thomas

http://nation.time.com/2013/11/08/coroner-says-probe-of-death-in-gym-mat-was-botched/

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7 thoughts on “Inquest into death of an Independent Coroner’s office = suspicious circumstances

  1. This is an obvious set-up, coming on the heels of the county’s new $6,000,000 tax increase. The four stooges strike again.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is another travesty that will only expand the cronyism that already infects law enforcement in this county.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Its really a matter of a-person-in-the-job. Its a very well paying job and as long as a good ole boy could be found who wanted it, it would be kept as a sort of political patronage or a perk for those in the good ole club. But a vacant seat, up for grabs by just anyone, is a political and economic liability.

    Every elective office is a potential power base that can become a ‘wedge’ whereby ‘outside’ people can get paid securely and well while learning the political ropes and where the bodies are buried. That’s a potential power shift. The most important control is economic power over the general public. Being able to take away a livelihood when crossed is what the good ole boys defend. An outside public official threatens that.

    Eliminating the coroner position is much safer than risking it will fall into ‘enemy’ hands and have to be retaken at great effort and cost. Just look what happened with the DA, how much effort it took to constrain him and restrict his budget.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Shouldn’t an “elected” position only be eliminated with an election? Seems very wrong to me to remove voters from this issue.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks TE for informing us more on this issue. So I thought…’well, that does not seem like a great idea, but then again Sheriff Downey is Nice so what could go wrong?’

    Then when I read about this poor fella dead from a Kern County Sheriff and CHP beatdown and chokathon, I thought..’.well, surely the science will tell us whether he had died from abuses of the 8 Law Enforcement Officers actions, or perhaps some medical conditions or drugs he had taken’…but see, silly me, that would be a problem because the Sheriff IS the Coroner…and they did have an independent examination demanded by the family in the subsequent lawsuit…but way after the fact, way after he was dead.
    So, for the record, here is the sufferings of the people in Kern County, or subtitled ‘Why Being the Sheriff and The Coroner Is A Really Bad Idea.’

    When a reporter suggested a citizen’s oversight committee might be appropriate, given Youngblood’s conflict of interest as both sheriff and coroner, he bristled: “This case personifies exactly why a citizen review board is not a good idea. I, as sheriff, or the chief of police, we deal in law and we deal in policy. We don’t deal in emotion. The public deals in emotions; the media controls the public’s emotion.”

    We can’t have bristleing when the alarmed citizenry asks the all too obvious questions.

    And look at the payouts there for this..again paid by the taxpayers..settlements of 4-6 million dollars. ‘Why is my insurance bill so high?

    But maybe that’s just an isolated case, cause the Kern County Sheriff Bristles…so is Not Nice.

    OUR Sheriff would never act like THAT!

    We’re Different!

    Right?

    RIP David Silva.

    http://www.latimes.com/local/abcarian/la-me-abcarian-silva-death-20141121-column.html

    Liked by 1 person

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