A revealing history of covering up the true causes of deaths of BIPOC in custody—from the forensic pathologist whose work changed the course of the George Floyd, Eric Garner, and Michael Brown cases
Dr. Michael Baden has been involved in some of the most high-profile civil rights and police brutality cases in US history, from the government’s 1976 re-investigation of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., to the 2014 death of Michael Brown, whose case sparked the initial Ferguson protests that grew into the Black Lives Matter movement.
The playbook hasn’t changed since 1979, when Dr. Baden was demoted from his job as New York City’s Chief Medical Examiner after ruling that the death of a Black man in police custody was a homicide.
So in 2020 when the Floyd family, wary of the same system that oversaw George Floyd’s death, needed a second opinion—Dr. Baden is who they called.
In these pages, Dr. Baden chronicles his six decades on the front lines of the fight for accountability within the legal system—including the long history of medical examiners of using a controversial syndrome called excited delirium (a term that shows up in the pathology report for George Floyd) to explain away the deaths of BIPOC restrained by police.
In the process, he brings to life the political issues that go on in the wake of often unrecorded fatal police encounters and the standoff between law enforcement and those they are sworn to protect.
Full of behind-the-scenes drama and surprising revelations, American Autopsy is an invigorating—and enraging—read that is both timely and crucial for this turning point in our nation’s history.
About the Author
Dr. Michael Baden is a physician, former Chief Medical Examiner of New York City and former Chief Forensic Pathologist for the New York State Police and has held professorial teaching appointments at Albert Einstein Medical School, Albany Medical College, New York University Medical School, New York Law School and John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He was Chairman of the Forensic Pathology Panel of the U.S. Congress Select Committee on Assassinations. Dr. Baden has been consulted as an expert in the investigations of the deaths of many government officials, celebrities, and other high-profile individuals, in many countries around the world. Dr. Baden was the host of HBO's Autopsy series for 12 years, has written two non-fiction books on forensic science: Unnatural Death, Confessions of a Medical Examiner and Dead Reckoning, the New Science of Catching Killers, and is co-author, with his wife, attorney Linda Kenney Baden, of two forensic thrillers, Remains Silent and Skeleton Justice. He is the forensic science contributor for FOX National News and is a reviewer for the New England Journal of Medicine.