Families Demand More Oversight, Accountability for M.E.'s Office
By Jon Jordan, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Families who say they have been wronged by the Medical Examiner's office gathered at the State Capitol Thursday armed with a petition of some 2,000 signatures, demanding more oversight and accountability.
Chanda Turner's family said the lack of oversight has left them with little avenues to turn as they try to get their daughter's death certificate changed from suicide to murder. Since 23-year-old Chanda Turner's death, two other pathologist have looked at her case stating Turner could have been murdered. Despite that, the Medical Examiner's office has refused to change her death certificate.
"It's been a horrific experience trying to deal with the M.E.'s office concerning my daughter's death," said Donna Turner, Chanda's mother.
It's that reason the Turner family has filed not only a lawsuit against the Medical Examiner's office but are asking the legislature to enact specific changes to the agency.
One change the family's attorney, Jaye Mendros, is pushing for is making the Chief Medical Examiner's position an elected position, something she argued should have been that way since the beginning.
"They [the agency] are supported by tax money and the way they are setup they are immune from anything the citizens have to say about them and that's what we are going to change," Mendros said.
What those protesting the Medical Examiner's office would like to change is something the agency feels maybe necessary.
"The right leadership I think would help," said Cherokee Ballard, M.E.'s office spokesperson.
However with or without government oversight, Ballard said the kind of changes the protestors are suggesting will take time.
"We are trying to make the best of our situation that we have right now," Ballard said.
But those like the Turner family said their time is up.
"Changes need to happen. What we don't want are other families being treated and going through the stress and financial burden that been put on many of us," Donna Turner said.
With only a one day left in the legislative session, protestors hope to get legislation enacting some of their changes passed with the legislature reconvenes next year.