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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Autopsies thrown into question

Grant William Prentice, 40 - Brooks, AB - May 6, 2009 - RCMP - tasered at least 2 times - "Official" cause of death: acute cocaine toxicity and "the medical examiner also concluded the taser did not play a role in the death"

February 17, 2011
Alex Mccuaig, Medicine Hat News

A Calgary pathologist whose work is being called into question was involved in at least two investigations stemming from deaths in southeastern Alberta, the News confirmed Wednesday.

Concerns about the quality of Dr. Michael Belenky's work arose publicly after Calgary Police requested a review on Jan. 26 of one of the pathologist's reports.

Alberta Justice announced five days later that 12 cases handled by Belenky at Alberta Medical Examiners Office Calgary will be reviewed.

The News learned autopsies connected to the February 2010 alleged homicide of Morbe Buluk in Medicine Hat and the fatality of Grant Prentice, who died during an arrest in May 2009 in Brooks, were performed by Belenky.

Regarding Prentice's death, Cliff Purvis, director of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) — which investigates deaths involving police — said, "he was the medical examiner."

But Purvis added, "the findings of the medical examiner's office didn't rest solely on Dr. Belenky's opinion and won't affect the outcome of our file."

Died during arrest

Prentice, 40, died after Brooks RCMP officers used a Taser and physical force to subdue the man after witnesses reported he was acting erratically. The ASIRT investigation cleared Mounties of any wrongdoing, attributing the death to acute cocaine toxicity. Purvis stated the toxicology report wasn't conducted by Belenky.

"That was done by a separate expert in the medical examiner's office," Purvis said.

ASIRT's role, regardless of the ME's report, he added, is to investigate whether police committed any criminal offence. In this case, ASIRT found, police actions were justified.

"I'm not reopening the investigation because it has little impact on our case," said Purvis.

Informed of Belenky's connection to the investigation of his son's death, Bill Prentice said he suspected the pathologist's involvement in the file when Alberta Justice announced its review of Belenky's examinations. "It makes you wonder," said Prentice. "The whole thing sounds to me like it could have been a problem." He said he never had much faith in the report into his son's death. "We could have raised a bunch of hell but guess what's going to happen? Nothing... They'll deny everything no matter what.'

Anniversary Approaches

As she prepares to mourn the one-year anniversary of her son Morbe's death on Family Day, Stela Buluk said she feels lost without her boy. Morbe Buluk was involved in a physical altercation on the evening of Feb. 17, 2010 with a 26-year-old man in Medicine Hat. Afterwards, he made his way home but began to act erratically and the family contacted police. The 18-year-old was taken into custody and was examined by paramedics, according to Medicine Hat police, but was found in medical distress a few hours later in his cell on the morning of Feb. 18. He died three days later at a Calgary hospital. A Medicine Hat man is currently facing manslaughter charges in connection with this case. Buluk's mother said she was informed three weeks ago that the her son's autopsy will be reviewed. "I hope at the end they do the right thing," said Buluk, who emigrated from Sudan with her three children and husband in 2003. "I'm struggling. I feel like I'm stuck in one place and don't know what to do. You just lose a son like that and now you don't know what's going to happen. You don't know," said Buluk. That autopsy was conducted on Feb. 24, 2010. However, questions began to surface last December when a local defence lawyer told the court he hadn't received the ME's report nine months after the autopsy was completed.

Alberta Justice spokesperson David Deer said the department cannot currently comment on specific cases but said Belenky left the ME's office prior to the announcement of the review. Deer added Belenky's departure was not connected to the investigation. "The first goal of the review is to review every criminal file this pathologist worked on regardless of whether it involved a conviction or acquittal," said Deer. "We'll take whatever time necessary to do that," Deer said Belenky had the recognized qualifications to practise forensic pathology in the province and was licenced by the College of Physicians & Surgeons. "Dr. Belenky certainly did have the credentials as well as being licenced," said Deer.

Medicine Hat defence lawyer Bill Cocks said he has never seen the work of a pathologist called into question like this in his 35 years of practicing law in Alberta. "The pathologist in some kinds of murder cases is critical," said Cocks. "We can't put the pieces together ourselves and we rely on this person's expertise." He said evidence presented by a pathologist is rarely questioned. "Who's to challenge it? Most people don't have the resources to hire their own pathologist and conduct the examination or review the report to make their own determination."

Alberta Justice has announced it will launch fatality inquires for both Morbe Buluk and Grant Prentice but dates have yet to be set.

1 comment:

Excited-Delirium.com said...



It's pretty obvious that the results are being influenced by deceptive propaganda originating from Taser International.