Man who helped perform Michael Brown’s autopsy charged with fraud

Shawn Parcells has been charged with 10 counts of wire fraud, adding to a pile of accusations he faces.

The man who assisted in the autopsy of Michael Brown has been charged with 10 counts of wire fraud, adding to a pile of accusations he faces.

Shawn Parcells was arrested in March 2019 on three counts of desecration of a body and theft after performing private autopsy services under a variety of names. Parcells is not a doctor, but he was paid by families to conduct private autopsies. 

Shawn Parcells, who assisted in the autopsy of Michael Brown, speaks about his findings at an August 2014 press conference at the Greater St. Marks Family Church in Ferguson, Missouri, held nine days after the unarmed teenager was shot and killed by a police officer there. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

He played a role in the private death investigation of Brown, the unarmed teenager killed by police Officer Darren Wilson in 2014, whose fatal shooting sparked national outrage and protests in Ferguson, Missouri for months. 

The Brown family hired a noted pathologist named Michael Baden to perform an independent autopsy on the 18-year-old. Parcells assisted him and appeared on national news shows discussing the case. Baden and Parcells concluded that Brown was likely bent over when fatal shots were fired into the top of his head. 

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Reports indicate over 20 families spanning the country have accused Parcells of taking their money for autopsy work that was never finished, an amount that passes $1 million, which they’re also trying to recover.

According to an assistant attorney general in Kansas, Parcells has described himself as someone who is self-taught in the trade of pathology. The court alleges he never disclosed his lack of formal training to customers who, prosecutors claim, he scammed out of thousands of dollars. 

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A judge ruled that there was enough evidence to suggest Parcells had violated the Kansas Consumer Protection Act and ordered him to stop conducting his business and shut down his website. 

In a separate civil case, Parcells was hit with a temporary restraining order to prevent him from performing services. 

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Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt alleged that Parcells violated the state’s False Claims Act and Consumer Protection Act. The state also alleges he billed his county for at least 14 autopsies that were never performed. 

In a statement, Parcells’ attorney said that he was assessing the “best course of action” in the case. 

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Missouri state law requires county medical examiners to be licensed physicians; the law differs in Kansas. 

“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, according to The Kansas City Star. “My business is still recovering. I do feel like I’ve bounced back some.”

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