Renowned Pathologist Dr. Michael Baden By SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES
ST. CROIX — Dr. Michael Baden, the high-profile American physician and board-certified forensic pathologist known for performing autopsies on George Floyd, whose death at the hands of police led to worldwide protests against racial injustice, as well as autopsies on Michael Brown and Jeffery Epstein, among others, has taken up the case of Tamir Lake, the 22-month-old boy who died while at the Queen Louise Home for Children on St. Croix in May, after being taken from his mom, Rhonda Jeremiah, well over a year before his death.
Attorneys Yohanna Manning and Akeel St. Jean, who are representing Ms. Jeremiah, on Tuesday sent a letter to V.I. Attorney General Denise George requesting a copy of the autopsy along with "all related reports and documents that were used to reach the conclusion that Baby Tamir’s cause of death was homicide."
The case realized fixated attention from the community following Ms. Jeremiah's interview on the Consortium on July 8. She had been seeking answers from the Dept. of Human Services, which took the child away from Ms. Jeremiah in December 2018, on the status of the boy's autopsy since his death in May 2020 up until her appearance on the Consortium. Two days later, Governor Albert Bryan told this publication that an autopsy would be ready on July 20.
Then, on the night of July 20, the V.I. Dept. of Justice (D.O.J.) issued a media invite for a press conference by AG George to be held live on Facebook, where the attorney general would provide details on the autopsy results. The D.O.J. had not notified the mother at the time, leading to community outrage. During the morning time of July 21 — not long before Ms. George went live with her press conference — the D.O.J.'s medical examiner, Dr. Jacqueline Pender, contacted Ms. Jeremiah to share the results of the autopsy. She told Ms. Jeremiah that the May 5, 2020 death had been ruled a homicide stemming from injuries the boy sustained in December 2018 through "brute force trauma," and that the case would be turned over to the V.I.P.D. for investigation.
Ms. Jeremiah has vehemently rejected the D.O.J.'s conclusions. She said she had been given conflicting stories about the autopsy and why it had taken so long. D.H.S., Ms. Jeremiah said, for months had said to her the results were taking long because D.H.S. and D.O.J. were awaiting bloodwork. Ms. Jeremiah said a D.O.J. detective had given her the same reason for the protracted delay.
But when Ms. Jeremiah was contacted by the D.O.J.'s medical examiner on July 21, she said a different story was told. "This morning the medical examiner confirmed to me that what they (D.H.S. and the D.O.J. detective) were telling me was a lie. They were not waiting on no bloodwork. The medical examiner said she didn't understand why they would tell me that. She told me the autopsy been ready and that she don't know why it took so long for them to give me anything. She confirmed that this morning," Ms. Jeremiah said, referring to the D.O.J. medical examiner.
The letter addressed to Ms. George, which was obtained by the Consortium, reads, "Please be advised that we represent Rhonda Jeremiah, the mother of Tamir Lake. We are aware that the Department of Justice’s Office of the Medical Examiner has opined that homicide is the medical cause of death for Baby Tamir. We are further advised that the Department of Justice concluded that Baby Tamir died from injuries which originate from purported abuse he suffered in 2018, several years before his death.
"As was noted in the Department of Justice’s application to remove Baby Tamir from the care of his mother, Tamir was not abused or neglected by his parents. We have engaged the services of Dr. Michael Baden, the most accomplished forensic pathologist in the country (he has performed autopsies on George Floyd, Jeffrey Epstein, Michael Brown, and many others and has served as New York’s chief medical examiner) to review the Department of Justice’s findings regarding the cause of death. We therefore we request a copy of the autopsy report as well as all related reports and documents that were used to reach the conclusion that Baby Tamir’s cause of death was homicide.
"We humbly seek your compliance with our request in an expeditious manner so that Dr. Baden can perform his review."