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Fact check: No, the same doctor did not autopsy JFK, MLK, Jeffrey Epstein and George Floyd

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The claim: The same doctor autopsied JFK, MLK, Jeffrey Epstein and George Floyd

A viral claim misrepresenting a connection among several high-profile autopsies is igniting online speculation.

“Autopsy doc for George Floyd was doc who did autopsies for MLK, JFK, Jeffrey Epstein,” said a tweet posted on Instagram on June 7 by QTheWakeUp.

While some commenters expressed disbelief that one person performed the four autopsies across a 57-year span, others suspected something sinister.

“Well trusted to keep the secrets. Can’t trust just anybody,” abstractagim commented.

The screenshotted tweet came from Mike Bravo, a self-described freelance reporter known for pushing QAnon conspiracies on his account.

In his tweet, Bravo included a link to pathologist Michael Baden’s Wikipedia page.

"Sometimes I dabble in conspiracies, but that's because they are fun, and I enjoy the research," Bravo told USA TODAY.

Bravo correctly identifies Baden as having some involvement in all four cases. However, he misrepresents the pathologist's role to imply a deeper connection.

Pathologist Michael Baden shares preliminary results of a second autopsy done on Michael Brown, a black man who was shot by a white police officer, in St. Louis County, Mo., in 2014.
Pathologist Michael Baden shares preliminary results of a second autopsy done on Michael Brown, a black man who was shot by a white police officer, in St. Louis County, Mo., in 2014.

Baden is a well-known pathologist

Baden has served as an expert in many investigations, including: Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr., President John F. Kennedy, John Belushi, Jeffrey Epstein, Kobe Bryant and George Floyd.

After Baden testified for the defense in the O.J. Simpson trial in 1995, he was deemed the “celebrity pathologist.”

Baden is a Fox News contributor and hosted HBO’s show "Autopsy."

He served as New York City's chief medical examiner and chairman of the Forensic Pathology Panel for the House Select Committee on Assassinations.

In 2014, Baden conducted Michael Brown's second autopsy and reviewed Eric Garner's autopsy results at the request of their families.

People walk by a mural for George Floyd as they pay their respects during a memorial June 6 in North Carolina.
People walk by a mural for George Floyd as they pay their respects during a memorial June 6 in North Carolina.

Baden performed autopsy for Floyd family

A day after Floyd died, pinned by the neck under police officer Derek Chauvin's knee for nearly nine minutes, Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office pathologist Andrew Baker performed Floyd's autopsy May 26.

The autopsy found "no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation" and suggested underlying health conditions or potential intoxicants contributed to Floyd’s death.

Floyd’s family commissioned Baden and Dr. Allecia Wilson to perform a second autopsy.

The second autopsy found Floyd died from “asphyxia due to neck and back pressure.” Baden and Wilson said the neck pressure fatally “interfered with his breathing and blood flow to the brain.”

"What we found is consistent with what people saw," Baden said. "There is no other health issue that could cause or contribute to the death. Police have this false impression that if you can talk, you can breathe. That’s not true."

The Floyd family’s attorney, Ben Crump, announced the preliminary findings from Baden and Wilson’s autopsy in a tweet June 1.

Baden testified on JFK autopsy

Hours after Kennedy was assassinated Nov. 22, 1963, three military pathologists performed his autopsy: Navy Cmdr. James Humes, Navy Cmdr. J. Thornton Boswell and Army Lt. Col. Pierre Finck.

President John F. Kennedy waves to the crowd from his limousine in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.
President John F. Kennedy waves to the crowd from his limousine in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.

In 1976, Congress established the House Select Committee on Assassinations to review the deaths of JFK and MLK. The committee considered scientific evidence, government files and witness testimony.

As chairman of the Forensic Pathology Panel, Baden testified before the committee in the 1970s. During his testimony, Baden confirmed he had no contact with the Kennedy case before reviewing archival materials with the panel.

Baden also testified on MLK's autopsy

After King was shot April 4, 1968, Shelby County, Tennessee, medical examiner Jerry Francisco performed his autopsy.

To address criticism around the thoroughness of the report, the House committee had a panel of three pathologists review the archival medical evidence in the 1970s. Baden served as spokesman for that panel and concluded the findings were generally accurate.

Baden testified that Francisco didn’t dissect the path of the bullet during the autopsy because of his "concerns about not causing any unnecessary deformity to the body" and "his sensitivity to the treatment of the dead." He said, "Tracing the bullet track proper at the time of the autopsy would have given additional information for questions that might arise later."

Baden observed Epstein's autopsy and consulted his family

Epstein, a well-connected philanthropist, wealthy financier and registered sex offender, was found dead as he awaited sex trafficking charges in August 2019. Epstein’s connections to Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, as well as Britain's Prince Andrew, caused some people to suspect foul play in his death.

New York City’s chief medical examiner, Barbara Sampson, handled Epstein's autopsy and ruled his death a suicide.

Authorities continue to investigate Jeffrey Epstein, though he killed himself in a detention center.
Authorities continue to investigate Jeffrey Epstein, though he killed himself in a detention center.

Evidence of neck injuries – along with the dirt many anticipated Epstein might share during his trial – inspired many conspiracy theories surrounding his death. Epstein’s brother hired Baden to explore those suspicions.

Sampson allowed Baden to observe Epstein’s autopsy. “This is routine practice,” she told FactCheck.org in August.

After the autopsy, Baden expressed his disagreement with the findings in several interviews.

"There were findings that are unusual for suicide by hanging and consistent with ligature homicidal strangulation," Baden said on Fox & Friends in October.

Despite Baden’s suspicions, Sampson held that a second autopsy was not necessary.

“Our investigation concluded that the cause of Mr. Epstein’s death was hanging and the manner of death was suicide," she said. "The original medical investigation was thorough and complete. There is no reason for a second medical investigation by our office.”

After publication of this story USA TODAY spoke with Baden. He confirmed that he conducted Floyd's second autopsy, consulted on Epstein's autopsy and had no role in MLK's and JFK's autopsies beyond testifying and reviewing documents many years later.

Our Ruling: False

We rate the claim that the same doctor autopsied the bodies of JFK, MLK, Epstein and Floyd FALSE because it is not supported by our research. Baden has ties to all four investigations, but he performed an autopsy only on Floyd. He reviewed archival evidence for JFK and MLK's cases and consulted for Epstein's.

Our fact-check sources:

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Doctor didn't autopsy JFK, MLK, Epstein and George Floyd

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