The Washington State Department of Health has launched a probe into the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Department of Health officials confirmed an investigation has been started against Dr. John Howard and Dr. Sally Aiken with the Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office.

Officials said they received a complaint asking for a review of several recent cause of death rulings.
KREM 2 has covered several cases where both families and detectives disagree with the manner of death determined by the office.

In the case of VA surgeon John Marshall, who was found dead in the Spokane River, the Medical Examiner’s (ME) Office ruled his death an accident.
His wife, Dr. Suzan Marshall, says the evidence found at the scene and during the autopsy say otherwise.

“We have proven he was not in that shallow eddy for a significant period of time and that was never even addressed,” she said Monday.

Marshall said she has tried to get the ruling changed but found there is no avenue to challenge the medical examiner’s ruling.

“I would like to eventually see an audit of the cases that are accident, suicide, or indeterminate because that's where things seem to stop,” she said.

Since speaking out about her husband’s case, Marshall said other families have contacted her. She said they have experienced a similar problem and disagree with the medical examiner’s rulings.

In the case of Brenda Thurman, who was shot and killed by her husband Dwayne Thurman, the medical examiner ruled her death an accident.

Dwayne Thurman claims he shot her in the chest by accident while cleaning her gun.

Brenda’s daughter has filed a wrongful death lawsuit and disagrees that her death was an accident.

Another questionable case is that of Kala Williams. Williams was found dead in a wooded area near 14th and Lindeke in 2012. The ME’s Office ruled her death “undetermined” despite gruesome details surrounding her death.

“I think we’re finding that it’s not just me, it’s not just the Williams family, it’s case after case so if a family has serious questions about how things went that they bring them forward now,” Marshall said.

The Medical Examiner’s Office said both doctors were busy performing autopsies Monday, but expected to have a response by Tuesday afternoon.