Crime

Kansas man who helped with 2014 Michael Brown autopsy temporarily banned from business

A Kansas man and his affiliated companies have been temporarily banned from conducting autopsies in the state, according to the office of the Kansas Attorney General.

A Shawnee County district judge on Monday issued a temporary restraining order banning 37-year-old Shawn Parcells, of Leawood, from conducting autopsies, forensic pathology and tissue recovery until a civil lawsuit alleging violations of the state’s consumer protection and false claims acts are resolved.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt filed the lawsuit last week, contending 14 violations of the False Claims Act and violations of the Consumer Protection Act involving three consumers.

According to the lawsuit, Parcells contracted with Wabaunsee County to conduct coroner-ordered autopsies and failed to complete them in accordance with Kansas law.

Coroner-ordered autopsies in Kansas are to be performed by qualified pathologists. The lawsuit indicated Parcells, described as a a self-taught pathology assistant with no formal education, degree or license in the healing arts, allegedly conducted many of the autopsies without a pathologist and billed the county for at least 14 autopsies that weren’t performed.

The lawsuit also contended that Parcells accepted payments for private autopsies but failed to perform them.

It also noted that some families who asked Parcells’ business to conduct the autopsies believed he had medical qualifications and was licensed to perform the exams.

Some thought Parcells was a professor, the lawsuit said, “because of misrepresentations he was ‘Professor Lynn.’” Lynn is his middle name.

Parcells also faces criminal charges in another case filed by the attorney general last week.

Parcells is charged in Wabaunsee County District Court with three felony counts of theft and three misdemeanor counts of criminal desecration in regard to the autopsies.

In a statement issued Tuesday evening, Eric Kjorlie, a Topeka-based attorney representing Parcells, said he and his client are considering next steps.

“We are still reviewing criminal bond conditions and civil TRO to assess and determine the best course of action — to include determining the best course of action within and outside the State of Kansas which includes my Client’s obvious need to perform professional services to ensure completion of expert witness summaries and reports for existing clients — subject to Court supervision and approval as necessary to perform and/or referral to and/or to complete by other forensic clinical anatomists.”

The Star interviewed Parcells in 2014 after he made national news for assisting in the private autopsy of Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer.

According to the report, lawyers representing Brown’s parents asked Michael Baden, a forensic pathologist and former chief medical examiner for New York City, and Parcells to perform a second autopsy after St. Louis County had performed the initial examination.

At the time, The Star noted Parcells owned a business in Kansas which provided medical examiner services for county coroners in Missouri. It said Parcells teamed with licensed doctors who led the autopsies while he assisted.

But Parcells had faced some scrutiny after a 2013 St. Louis Post-Dispatch article questioned whether he had performed autopsies without a medical license, inflated his professional qualifications and listed doctors on autopsy reports who weren’t present for the exams.

Missouri state law requires county medical examiners to be physicians licensed to practice by the state board of the healing arts.

Parcells has previously said he is not a physician. According to The Star, he earned a bachelor’s degree in life sciences from Kansas State University in 2003, and his qualifications for assisting at autopsies come from occasional classes, internships, observation and on-the-job training.

“I feel a sense of accomplishment in that I was able to help this family and, of course, work with Dr. Baden,” Parcells said following the Brown autopsy in 2014. “My business is still recovering. I do feel like I’ve bounced back some.”

Robert A. Cronkleton gets up very early in the morning to bring readers breaking news about crime, transportation and weather at the crack of dawn. He’s been at The Star since 1987 and now contributes data reporting and video editing.
Kaitlyn Schwers covers breaking news and crime at night for The Kansas City Star. Originally from Willard, Mo., she spent nearly three years reporting in Arkansas and Illinois before returning to Missouri and joining The Star in 2017.
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