Michelle Gross swore in a Hennepin County Court affidavit that she saw a bullet wound in Jason Yang's body last week at the medical examiner's office. She also swore that she's a registered nurse. But she's not. And the ME says she's got her facts wrong.
Yang is the West St. Paul man who jumped 40 feet to his death from a freeway off-ramp 10 days ago. He was being chased on foot by Minneapolis police after they broke up a fight at the Epic nightclub. The ME's office declared his death an accident and said he died of blunt force trauma.
Gross is the president of the Communities United Against Police Brutality watchdog group. She, Yang's widow and brother believe he was shot, and they got a court order on Friday from Hennepin County District Judge Lloyd Zimmerman to view Yang's body from behind a glass screen.
- Plaintiff shall have immediate access to view the body of her deceased husband, Jason Yang, at the office of the Hennepin County Medical Examiner.
- Plaintiff may be accompanied by one family member and one nurse or other medical professional.
After viewing the body, Gross, who got access to the room under the "nurse" designation, filed this affidavit:
"I am the nurse who accompanied the family to view Jason Yang's body on 11/19/10. The ME's office showed us the left side of Jason Yang's body and we had to ask to have the body turned (that is, the table turned). I am a registered nurse, and I have observed a number of bullet wounds in my professional capacity. I am not mistaken, and am very sure of what I saw. I am also concerned that the ME's office has been less than forthcoming and that this Court must order that it preserve the evidence."
But she's not a licensed nurse, she told the Pioneer Press, claiming instead to have had some nurse training. Her name does not appear in the Minnesota Board of Nursing's online database. In Minnesota, posing as a nurse is against the law. We're trying to reach her to clear up the confusion.
Andrew Baker, the county medical examiner, held an unusual news conference yesterday, and published his own affidavit, to rebut the accusations.
"There is no bullet wound on Jason Yang's body," Baker said. "What Ms. Yang, Mr. Yang, and Ms. Gross observed was a skin defect caused by Mr. Yang's broken clavicle."
In addition to myriad other injuries, autopsy examination revealed that Mr. Yang's right clavicle was broken. The fractured bone punctured his skin, leaving a small defect in the skin over his right clavicle. I have personally examined this skin defect and the underlying clavicular fracture, and taken photographs of these injuries.
Baker also said that while they viewed the body, he heard Gross tell the Yangs that there was a bullet wound on Jason Yang's clavicle. She also described fingerprinting material left on his thigh as a "boot mark."
Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan has flatly denied that Yang was shot, and said video and audio recordings from the night will back him up, once they are released along with a final investigative report.
"The reality is that there were no shots fired by officers and there was absolutely no physical contact by officers with Mr. Yang between the time that Mr. Yang participated in an assault on officers until officers gave first aid after Mr. Yang's fatal fall.
Instead, Dolan said, "self-serving charlatans who have little regard for the truth or the harm they can do to a community."