Colin Kaepernick's New Initiative Will Offer Free Autopsies for Those Killed in Police-Related Incidents

Colin Kaepernick
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The Autopsy Initiative, being launched through the Know Your Rights Camp, will offer free, secondary autopsies to the families of people killed in police-related incidents. 

Colin Kaepernick is launching an initiative through the Know Your Rights Camp that will offer free, secondary autopsies to the families of people killed in police-related incidents. 

The Autopsy Initiative will collaborate with board-certified forensic pathologists who perform autopsies and will disclose their preliminary findings, as well as issue final reports to the families, according to a description of the new initiative.

"We know that the prison industrial complex, which includes police and policing, strives to protect and serve its interests at all costs," Kaepernick told the Associated Press. "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."

The hope is to eliminate concerns about the reliability of the autopsies ordered by authorities, Kaepernick said.

“When a police-related death is involved, various concerns may arise including the reliability of the first autopsy conducted, the objectivity of the autopsy, the risk of manipulation of evidence, potential bias on behalf of the coroner or medical examiner, or use of faulty forensic procedures,” the initiative's description on its website reads.

The program manager for the initiative, Nicole Martin, said she is looking forward to the impact it will have. 

“I am passionate about the Initiative’s impact and look forward to being a resource to victims’ family members who have lost their loved ones due to a police-related death,” Martin told the AP. 

Kaepernick is widely known for protesting police brutality and racial inequality in the U.S. during his time in the NFL. Six years ago, Kaepernick, who is white and Black, began kneeling during the national anthem to spread awareness about the issue. He stopped playing in the NFL in 2016.

His decision to kneel, however, became controversial, with even then-President Donald Trump weighing in on his action in 2018.

"We have pride in our history and respect for our great American flag," Trump said. "We defend our flag, and we honor our flag. And if others honored our flag, they'd be a lot better off, wouldn't they? We put our hands on our hearts for the Pledge of Allegiance, and we do that proudly. And we stand for the national anthem."

Kaepernick filed a collusion grievance in 2019 alleging that NFL team owners worked together to prevent him from playing football in the wake of his kneeling protest. He and football player Eric Reid, formerly Kaepernick’s teammate who protested alongside him and who filed his own collusion grievance in 2018, both settled with the NFL in 2019. The terms of the settlement were confidential.

Autopsies done through the Autopsy Initiative will be conducted by board-certified pathologists who are "highly experienced and respected in their field and dedicated to uncovering the truth about the victim’s cause of death."

A request for an autopsy through the Autopsy Initiative may be completed by anyone with a close relationship with the victim, including the deceased's spouse, partner, relative, close friend, or lawyer, the initiative notes on its site. "However, only the victim’s legal representative and/or other authorized individuals can legally authorize the autopsy," the site notes. 

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