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Orleans coroner releases new guidelines for responding to law enforcement-related deaths

The Orleans Parish coroner on Monday unveiled new protocols for responding to deaths that occur as a result of law enforcement action or while someone is in custody.

Coroner Dr. Jeffrey Rouse said the new procedures are designed to improve the transparency and accountability of the coroner's office and improve the public's confidence in death investigations.

The guidelines apply to deaths that occur while someone is in police custody or while someone is jailed or in prison; deaths that occur as the result of the use of force by law enforcement officials or deaths that occur in a hospital setting for someone in custody, under police supervision, or who has recently been released from custody.

According to a coroner's office news release, in any of the above cases:

"The Coroner or the Chief Investigator will report to each scene

Decedents will not be removed until all related investigative agencies are notified

Immediate death investigation report will be filed with the Coroner or Chief Investigator

Autopsies shall occur no later than 24 hours from the time of death

Outside investigative agencies will be permitted to view autopsies

Independent forensic pathologists will be permitted to view autopsies

Finalized cases may be reviewed by the Civil Rights Division of the local FBI office."

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