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Judge orders release of Rohrbough autopsy
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Join date : 2013-03-22
|Subject: Judge orders release of Rohrbough autopsy Sat Jan 07, 2017 11:48 pm|| |
Jan. 31, 2001 - A judge on Tuesday ordered the release of the full autopsy report on Columbine High School victim Daniel Rohrbough and the autopsy summaries of other victims, including Dylan Klebold, one of the two shooters.
The Rohrbough autopsy report and "the initial portions of the other reports containing ...- opinions as to cause of death" should be released to the public, District Judge Brooke Jackson ruled in a 10-page order. Families of Columbine victims have fought to keep the autopsies sealed, testifying that disclosure would bring great harm and grief to them, the local community and the public.
"We are disappointed that anything is being released, because we didn't want anything released," said attorney Jim Rouse, who represents several families, including Rohrbough's. "We are grateful that a large portion of the materials are remaining sealed."
Rohrbough's autopsy is being released in its entirety because of the federal lawsuit his family has filed against the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. They claim Daniel was shot and killed by a police officer rather than by Eric Harris or Klebold.
"There is public interest in knowing whether Daniel was killed by "friendly fire,' as contended by the Rohrboughs," Jackson wrote.
Daniel Rohrbough's father, Brian, who has sued the Sheriff's Office, said he has been prepared for the release of the autopsy report.
"I think it is important for people to understand he was running from the gunmen who were on the hill behind him, and he was shot and killed from the front," he said.
"The fatal bullet could not have come from Klebold and Harris. It had to come from law enforcement at the bottom of the hill."
Autopsies of victim Isaiah Shoels and Harris have already been released as public documents without objection from their families.
Autopsy reports of the other victims in the April 20, 1999, massacre have been available to their parents and to the wife of slain teacher Dave Sanders.
The Denver Post went to court seeking the release of the remaining autopsies.
"Generally, we are pleased that Judge Jackson did release information about all of the victims that permits the public to assess how government officials performed their duties," said attorney Steven D. Zansberg, who represents The Post. "But we are troubled by some of the limitation in his ruling."
The Jefferson County coroner's office did not release the summaries or Rohrbough's complete autopsy Tuesday. Coroner Nancy Bodelson said she would first consult with the county attorney's office.
Rouse said it will be up to his clients "whether they want to sit tight and let the order stand or whether they want to appeal." In his order, Jackson wrote that the public "would oppose publication were they to understand that (it) might cause further grief and trauma to those closest to the case." Still, Jackson ruled that the "executive summary" portion of the autopsies be released because it "would not cause substantial injury to the public interest."
"It is no secret that these individuals died from gunshot wounds." In the order, Jackson wrote that the Klebolds also are victims of the tragedy.
"They, too, lost their son. They, too, have feelings of hurt and grief, doubtless compounded by the horror of knowing that their son was a perpetrator of these acts. For the present purpose, the court finds no compelling reason to set (them) apart from the other victim families."
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|Subject: Rohrbough was shot from below Sat Jan 07, 2017 11:48 pm|| |
Feb. 1, 2001 - The autopsy report on Columbine shooting victim Daniel Rohrbough was released Wednesday after his family opted against appealing a judge's ruling that made the document public.
The 10-page report is expected to be used as evidence in a federal lawsuit filed by Rohrbough's family. His parents allege that the 15-year-old student was shot by police and not gunmen Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris.
Rohrbough was shot three times - in the chest, abdomen and left leg - with a 9mm gun, the report says.
Jim Rouse, the lawyer representing the Rohrbough family and the families of five other victims, said he believes the trajectory of the bullets and how they entered the body prove that Rohrbough was killed by "friendly fire."
"Everybody admits that the gunman was on the top of the hill shooting down the hill," said Rouse. "There were two witnesses who saw him (Daniel) running down the hill" with his back to the gunman on the hill. But "the bullet wounds are from the front, and the trajectory of the fatal bullet is up."
Rouse said whoever fired the fatal shot was downhill of Rohrbough and in front of him.
The report shows that two of the bullets "traveled upward" through his body.
Sgt. Mike Julian of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office said, "The investigation shows there is no merit to the questions that deputies were involved in shooting Daniel."
He declined to comment further and referred questions to the Jefferson County attorney's office. The county attorney's office did not return calls Wednesday afternoon.
Two of the four guns used by Klebold and Harris in the April 20, 1999, rampage were 9mm weapons. The other two were 12-gauge shotguns.
Many police officers use 9mm handguns, and some of the SWAT officers who responded carried 9mm weapons.
Rouse said the Sheriff's Office report claims that either Harris or Klebold stood over Rohrbough, who was on the ground, and fired a close range shot at the teen.
"If that were the case, there should be some evidence of the bullet on the sidewalk. No evidence of the bullet was recovered. That was what the family was told," Rouse said.
Rouse complained that he's been denied access to the clothing Daniel wore the day of the shooting, which has barred his forensics team from running tests that might determine the range from which the bullets were fired.
"Clothing is being withheld by the sheriff's department even though we are under the impression that forensic tests on the clothing would be a good indicator of what happened," Rouse said.
The Rohrbough autopsy was released a day after Jefferson District Judge Brooke Jackson ordered it disclosed to the public. He also ordered that summaries of other autopsy reports be released.
The Denver Post has sought their disclosure over objections from the families and the county.
The summaries - including one on Klebold - have not yet been released, and the families may appeal Jackson's ruling.
The full autopsy reports for Harris and victim Isaiah Shoels were released in 1999.
In Tuesday's ruling, Jackson disclosed that Klebold had no drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of the massacre. Klebold's attorney, Gary Lozow, said he doesn't expect the family to appeal Jackson's ruling.
"My clients think the court's decision was appropriate and compassionate," said Lozow.
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|Subject: Rohrbough autopsy unveiled Sat Jan 07, 2017 11:51 pm|| |
Family claims report shows police shot son, not Columbine killers
February 1, 2001
Daniel Rohrbough was killed by a large caliber bullet, one of three that hit the teen-ager during the attack at Columbine High School, according to his autopsy report.
Jefferson County, with the permission of Rohrbough's family, released the autopsy publicly for the first time Wednesday.
The Rohrbough family is suing Jefferson County Sheriff John Stone, the sheriff's office and a number of deputies, claiming bullets from an officer's gun killed Rohrbough as he fled gunfire from the two young gunmen who carried out the April 20, 1999, attack on the school.
"There is absolutely nothing to substantiate that claim," Stone said late Wednesday. "That is totally unfactual."
Sheriff's investigators say Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 of their classmates -- including Rohrbough -- and a teacher before taking their own lives.
District Judge R. Brooke Jackson earlier this week ordered the release of the Rohrbough autopsy as well as the release of summaries of the autopsies conducted on 11 of the other victims and Klebold.
Autopsy reports for student Isaiah Shoels and Harris were released previously.
Rohrbough died after suffering extensive damage to his lungs, heart, aorta and esophagus from a bullet that ripped through his chest, entering on the left side and exiting through his right shoulder, according to the autopsy.
Another bullet hit him in the left side near the middle of his abdomen, lacerating his stomach and liver. That bullet was recovered from his abdomen.
A third bullet hit him in the left knee and traveled downward, exiting from his calf.
The autopsy report says the wounds are consistent with 9mm ammunition.
Klebold repeatedly fired a 9mm TEC-DC9 during the rampage. A ballistics report issued last year by the sheriff's office lists a number of 9mm weapons belonging to police officers at the scene as well.
Brian Rohrbough, Daniel's father, said Wednesday that his son's wounds indicate he was running from Klebold and Harris when he was intentionally shot by a police officer who thought he was one of the gunmen.
"Our claims are based on physical evidence, not just allegations," Brian Rohrbough said. "Our claims are he was running from the gunmen when he was shot and killed. I do not believe he was caught in a crossfire. I believe he was aimed at by an officer who suspected him as being a gunman."
The sheriff's investigative report, compiled in the months after the shooting and released last spring, indicated Rohrbough was hit in the leg by a shot fired by either Harris or Klebold, then killed as he lay on the ground by two shots fired by Klebold at close range.
Brian Rohrbough said the absence of powder burns proves his son was shot from a distance by an officer, not at close range by Klebold.
The 10-page autopsy report by Dr. Ben Galloway, a forensic pathologist, notes samples of skin from the two "deeply penetrating" wounds show no "significant powder residue."
Brian Rohrbough said the bullet that lodged in his son's liver was identified as having come from Klebold's gun, although he also believes that Daniel's back was to Harris and Klebold as he ran from them.
The apparent contradiction can be explained, he said, by the reports from witnesses that Klebold shot Daniel at close range only after the fatal shot had been fired by police and that Klebold waited until officers left before approaching Daniel and firing that shot.
"What we think happened there is he was shot after he was laying on the ground. That's also consistent with eyewitnesses who all say he was shot one time" as he lay on the ground, Brian Rohrbough said.
"The issue with that bullet, based on the information we have today, it is pretty likely that shot was fired after he was dead."
Brian Rohrbough said he also bases his "friendly fire" claim on the trajectory of the fatal bullet -- which the autopsy says traveled upward at about "25 degrees in the horizontal plane" -- and the statements of two witnesses, a teacher who knew his son Daniel and a police officer who saw him fall.
Both witnesses, Brian Rohrbough said, have agreed to testify for the Rohrbough family in their pending lawsuit.
The sheriff's investigative report says Rohrbough was one of the first victims, shot between 11:19 and 11:22 a.m., minutes before Deputy Neil Gardner, the school resource officer and the first lawman on the scene, was alerted to the attack.
Brian Rohrbough challenged that account, saying his witnesses will testify that at least seven officers were on the scene when Daniel was shot.
Brian Rohrbough said Gardiner is not the officer that he believes shot Daniel.
"That would be an incorrect assumption," he said. "We have neither named an officer nor will we until we have absolute proof."
Part of that proof, Rohrbough said, could come from bullet holes left in the clothes Daniel was wearing. But he said the sheriff's office has refused to return the clothing, claiming it is a "biohazard."
"I believe the clothes either verify my claims or refute them," Brian Rohrbough said. "If the sheriff's office can show us something that refutes them, we will withdraw our lawsuit."