Colin Kaepernick group promises free, second autopsy in police-related deaths

Effort aims to remove bias, manipulation, errors

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A group established by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick says it will offer a second autopsy, free, to the loved ones of those who died from a police-related incident.

The Autopsy Initiative, a service of the Kaepernick-founded Know Your Rights Camp, offers “completion of a second autopsy, disclosure of preliminary findings, and issuance of the final autopsy report,” according to a press release.

Colin Kaepernick NFL Workout
Colin Kaepernick , shown in a 2019 file photo, is the founder of an organization that will provide a second, free autopsy for people seeking answers about a loved one’s death related to a law enforcement incident. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

The effort hopes a second autopsy will remove any potential doubt about the objectivity of the initial findings, especially when it comes to potential bias, evidence manipulation, and errors.

“We know that the prison industrial complex, which includes police and policing, strives to protect and serve its interests at all costs,” Kaepernick told the Associated Press. “The Autopsy Initiative is one important step toward ensuring that family members have access to accurate and forensically verifiable information about the cause of death of their loved one in their time of need.”

The autopsies include any death, either pre-or in-custody, that results from contact with law enforcement. Autopsy requests can be completed by anyone close to the victim, including family members, partners, lawyers and friends. 

Five board-certified pathologists have signed up to perform the autopsies, the rights camp website notes. 

Dr. Cyril Wecht, the pathology coordinator, told AP: “The opportunity to have unbiased second autopsies performed by independent, experienced forensic pathologists in police-related deaths will provide victims’ families with knowledge that the true facts of any such case have been thoroughly analyzed and prepared for appropriate utilization whenever deemed necessary.”

Kaepernick led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012. He has not played in the NFL since 2016 when he started kneeling to protest racial injustice and police brutality. He became a free agent in 2017 but was frozen out of the league. 

He was still only 30 years old, a point at which many front-line NFL quarterbacks are looking at playing another half-dozen years or more, often at their maximum earnings potential. For example, in 2017, the top 16 highest-paid players in the league were all quarterbacks.

He filed a grievance against the NFL, alleging owners were colluding to keep him out of the league. He reached an undisclosed settlement in 2019.

Since then, Kaepernick has immersed himself in several social justice causes and won several awards, including the Amnesty Ambassador of Conscience Award — its highest honor — in 2018.

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