Florida Medical Examiners Panel Validates Findings In Gregory Edwards Death Investigation

By  //  July 17, 2020

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Panel members viewed all video evidence

A Probable Cause Panel from the Florida Medical Examiners Commission has concluded that the finding of Excited Delirium made by Brevard County Medical Examiner, Doctor Sajid Qaiser, related to Gregory Edwards’ death was appropriate and supported by his investigation.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – A Probable Cause Panel from the Florida Medical Examiners Commission has concluded that the finding of Excited Delirium made by Brevard County Medical Examiner, Doctor Sajid Qaiser, related to Gregory Edwards’ death was appropriate and supported by his investigation.

The Panel members agreed that Dr. Qaiser was “extremely thorough” in his investigation and determined that there was no probable cause for disciplinary action regarding the complaint filed, in that there were no violations of statute, administrative rules or professional practice guidelines in his death investigation of this case.

The review was in response to a complaint received by the Medical Examiner’s Commission on November 13, 2019, from Gregory Edwards’ wife, Kathleen Edwards. The complaint questioned Dr. Qaiser’s thoroughness and methodology during the autopsy as well as his legal and medical professional standard of care.

The Medical Examiners Commission has certain disciplinary oversight of medical examiner activities.

The Commission interacts with local, state and federal agencies in an effort to enhance medical examiners’ role of assisting the citizens of Florida in the area of death investigations and reporting and conducts administrative investigations into allegations of misconduct by medical examiners.

In response to the complaint, Dr. Barbara Wolf, District 5 and District 24 Medical Examiner, Charlie Cofer, Public Defender of Duval County and Carol Whitmore, Manatee County Commissioner and Registered Nurse were selected as the Probable Cause Panel to investigate the complaint.

Prior to the meeting, Panel members were provided all documents from the Brevard County Medical Examiner’s Office investigation as well as medical records from the Veteran’s Administration and Rockledge Regional Hospital in regard to Mr. Edwards medical history.

The participants in the Panel were also provided reference materials related to Excited Delirium Syndrome deaths. Additionally, Panel members were provided the Sheriff’s Office investigative report.

The Panel members viewed all video evidence including the Walmart surveillance recordings, which captured Mr. Edwards violently attacking a citizen who was at the location collecting Christmas toys for children, the West Melbourne Police body camera recordings which captured his violent resistance and transport to the County Jail, and jail security recordings.

The meeting of the Probable Cause Panel occurred via video conference on June 22, 2020.

The Panel agreed that Dr. Qaiser was extremely thorough in his performance of the autopsy, review of all medical records, examination of the restraints used during the incident, and reviewed all recorded video footage.

The Panel went on to conclude that, “all of the above information was considered in Dr. Qaiser’s final determination as to the cause and manner of death of Mr. Edwards.”

In speaking to the cause of death as Excited Delirium, the panel agreed that Excited Delirium is a cause of death that is recognized by the National Association of Medical Examiners, which in this case, Dr. Qaiser’s determination was based upon his professional opinion and was supported by his investigation.

The panel noted that the designation of the manner of death in these cases is difficult as deaths of this type can be classified as either accidental or homicide and the determination generally follows what is customary for the particular district the death occurs in.

The panel was in agreement that even if the death had been classified as a homicide that would be a pathological finding not a finding of criminal wrongdoing.  “Homicide” is not synonymous with the term “murder.”

The panel did find that some description of pattern markings were missing from the report that were most likely caused by a cooling blanket used during medical care provided to Mr. Edwards.

This omission might raise questions from persons not medically trained, however, the lack of description did not change the outcome or rise to the level of a violation.

The conclusion of the panel was that there was no cause for action against Dr. Qaiser and his determination of the cause and manner of death were appropriate and supported by his independent investigation.

Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey issued the following statement:

“While we fully expected this outcome, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office is grateful to the members of the State of Florida Medical Examiners Commission Probable Cause Panel who took the time to thoroughly review all documents supplied by the District 18 Medical Examiner’s Office including medical records, reference materials regarding Excited Delirium Syndrome, the complete Sheriff’s Office investigative report, Walmart Surveillance video recordings, West Melbourne Police Department body camera and prisoner transport recordings, the County Jail video surveillance recordings before rendering any conclusion about the thoroughness and findings of Medical Examiner Dr. Sajid Qaiser’s autopsy in the Gregory Edwards’ death investigation.

“The Medical Examiner’s Panel findings determined that Dr. Qaiser was extremely thorough in his investigation and had more than sufficient information at the time of his report to determine that Mr. Edwards’ history of mental illness records, coupled with his combative and violent behavioral state combined with physical restraint supported the opinion of a death caused by Excited Delirium Syndrome.  As the Panel clearly observed, Excited Delirium Syndrome “is a cause of death recognized by the National Association of Medical Examiners,” said Sheriff Ivey.

“The expertise of the participating Medical Examiners Panel members clarified from Dr. DiMaio’s book Excited Delirium Syndrome: Cause of Death and Prevention what law enforcement and medical examiners have long understood: that the manner of a death due to Excited Delirium Syndrome may be appropriately labeled either accident or homicide and that the designation of homicide does not necessarily indicate any criminal wrongdoing.  ‘Homicide’ is not synonymous with the term ‘murder.’ ”

“The Office of the State Attorney additionally reviewed each and every action of the arresting police officers and corrections deputies and determined that regardless of the label given to the manner of Gregory Edwards’ death, no criminal wrongdoing occurred in this case by any member of the Sheriff’s Office or West Melbourne Police Department.

“Prior to the State Attorney’s legal finding, Mrs. Edwards was offered the opportunity to include any information or findings of her representatives which were never provided.

“The Medical Examiner’s Panel members conducted an extremely thorough review of all facts prior to rendering an opinion, which clearly supports the independent findings of Dr. Qaiser.

“Just as the Office of the State Attorney found no criminal wrongdoing on the part of any officers or deputies, the Medical Examiner’s Panel found that Dr. Qaiser did not violate any statutes, rules, or practice guidelines in his independent investigation.”

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