Colin Kaepernick Launches Autopsy Initiative for Police-Related Deaths

Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick is launching a program called the Autopsy Initiative, a service designed to give families of those who die in police-related deaths a second, free autopsy with full access to the findings of the report.

The program will work with "board-certified pathologists" to perform the autopsies, according to Kaepernick's Know Your Rights Camp website, which states, "The Initiative seeks to be a resource to victims' family members by providing confidence in the forensic procedures and comfort in knowing the pathologists will conduct the autopsy with neutrality."

Several cases in recent years have been substantially impacted by the conducting of multiple autopsies, including the cases of Ronald Greene in 2019 and Cedric Lofton late last year. Greene's second autopsy contradicted the police report that claimed Greene died on impact in a car accident, when in reality he was wounded and later died because of injuries suffered when officers removed him from his car and had a physical altercation with him. Lofton, who died in September following an altercation in a juvenile intake facility, sustained life-threatening injuries that staff in the facility did not initially report and were revealed during a second autopsy in December.

Kaepernick's initiative defines police-related deaths as those that occur "when an individual is harmed by police officers while using deadly force which results in the individual's death. A police-related death includes in-custody deaths. In-custody deaths include deaths that arise during contact with law enforcement officers during arrest, pursuit, booking, transport, or incarceration."

The definition of "police-related deaths" also includes a wide range of law enforcement officers, including police officers, sheriffs, correctional officers, state troopers and highway patrol officers, as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Border Patrol agents, among others.

Anyone with a "close relationship" with the victim, like relatives, partners, friends or lawyers, can request an autopsy for someone they know who died in police custody. Those applying for the initiative have to fill out an online form with information about who died, when, where and other general information about why they are requesting a second autopsy.

The initiative's Frequently Asked Questions page recommends that a request for a second autopsy be completed as soon as possible and says that upon completion of the autopsy, preliminary findings and a full report will be shared with the individual who made the request.

"We know that the prison industrial complex, which includes police and policing, strives to protect and serve its interests at all costs," Kaepernick said in a statement sent to Newsweek. "The Autopsy Initiative is one important step toward ensuring that family members have access to accurate and forensically verifiable information about the cause of death of their loved one in their time of need."

"I am extremely enthusiastic about this truly unique program," said Dr. Cyril Wecht, one of the pathologists on the initiative's panel. "The opportunity to have unbiased second autopsies performed by independent, experienced forensic pathologists in police-related deaths will provide victims' families with knowledge that the true facts of any such case have been thoroughly analyzed and prepared for appropriate utilization whenever deemed necessary."

Update 2/23/22 2:45 p.m. EST: This story has been updated with additional context and information, and statements from Kaepernick and

Colin Kaepernick Autopsy Initiative Police Deaths
Colin Kaepernick has announced a new program called the Autopsy Initiative to provide free, neutral autopsies for the families of those who die in "police-related deaths." Above, Kaepernick speaks onstage during the Netflix limited series "Colin in Black and White" premiere at Los Angeles County Museum of Art on October 28, 2021, in Los Angeles. Leon Bennett/Getty Images for Netflix