/Officials remain mum on suspension, investigation of Mississippi’s chief medical examiner

Officials remain mum on suspension, investigation of Mississippi’s chief medical examiner

Colby Jordan spokeswoman for Mississippi’s attorney general said that “we can’t comment yet due to an ongoing investigation.” Sean Tindell, Mississippi Public Safety Commissioner, said LeVaughn was on administrative leave. However, Tindell could not give details as it is a personnel matter. Tindell stated that his office had notified all district attorneys in Mississippi that LeVaughn would be unavailable to help with cases or testify while he’s suspended. Tindell, who was elected in June, said that he is working with contract pathologists to ensure the backlog does not become an issue. The State Crime Lab and the medical examiner’s offices have had backlogs for many years, which has significantly slowed down prosecutions of homicide cases. Tindell stated that solving this problem has been a priority of his administration. He suggested contract pathologists could be a part of the solution. Tindell stated that LeVaughn was not arrested to his knowledge. LeVaughn was a forensic pathologist and was appointed chief medical examiner in 2011. This office is responsible for investigating all reported deaths. In Mississippi, medical death investigations were conducted by county medical inspectors. However, the Legislature established the state medical examr’s office in 2011 and replaced the county system with a statewide mixed coroner/state examinationr system. Tindell stated that while the office added a third examiner in June, it is now down to just two. Low pay has made it difficult for the state to retain and hire autopsy technicians and deputy examiners. READ MORE: Mississippi is facing a crisis of public safety. LeVaughn reported this summer that 26 positions were vacant at the Mississippi Forensic Laboratory, examiner’s office and that there were many autopsies awaiting their completion. Officials said that some families had been waiting two years for reports on autopsy. The examiner’s caseload has increased to 1,700 cases in recent years. Tindell stated that he didn’t know how LeVaughn might have affected the backlog or the number of cases.