Boeing Whistleblower Cause of Death Posted

AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

Ever since Boeing Whistleblower John Barnett was found dead in his Dodge pickup truck in the parking lot of the North Carolina hotel where he was staying, obvious questions have lingered over what happened to him. Yesterday, the coroner who handled the case finally revealed the results of the investigation. The cause of death was determined to be a "gunshot wound of the head." That much seemed to be obvious from the beginning. But the coroner then goes on to state somewhat vaguely that the death was "best deemed 'suicide.'" However, the additional details regarding the scene will likely do little to quell the controversy surrounding the incident. (NY Post)

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An autopsy report for John Barnett, the Boeing whistleblower who was found dead on the day he was due to testify against the jetliner giant, was released Friday — and the coroner writes “the manner of death is best deemed, ‘Suicide.'”

Questions have been raised about the sudden death of Barnett, 62, on March 9 ahead of giving testimony against his former employer, prompting his lawyers to urge Charleston, South Carolina, police “to investigate this fully and accurately,” and adding: “We need more information about what happened to John.”

The seemingly open-ended conclusion of the coroner does little to quell doubts about how he met his end.

So John Barnett died of a gunshot wound to the temple. We already knew that. Much of what was revealed does seem to point to suicide, but the additional details that were released yesterday don't seem to fully add up. First of all, it was a shot to the right temple. Since the majority of people are right-handed, that might make sense. And to be fair to the coroner, one might assume that an assassin would have approached the truck from the driver's side and shot him in the left temple. But they could have also come from the passenger side, so that's not definitive proof of anything.

Then there is the question of the location of the pistol. This report states that a "semi-automatic Smith & Wesson pistol, a loaded magazine, and unfired 9mm Luger cartridges were located on the vehicle console." Nobody fires a 9mm round into their skull and then places the weapon on the console. The original report said that the gun was found in John's hand. The cops seem to have this discrepancy covered, however, because police body-cam footage reportedly shows that pistol being found in Barnett's hand, with the officer removing it and placing it on the console. Of course, the gun could have been placed in his hand by somebody else.

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The gun was registered to Barnett, which kind of makes sense. If I were doing what he was doing I would probably be traveling armed as well. This fact also points to suicide since one would assume that an assassin would have come with their own weapon. But if an attacker had approached from the passenger side and opened the door to begin a confrontation, they could have found the gun in the glove compartment and decided to use it. 

The report further states that gunshot residue was found on Barnett's right hand. Yet there is no mention of residue on his head. This is a fairly comprehensive report, so if they had found any, it seems like it would have been mentioned.

Another question that hangs over this case is the issue of the security camera footage of the vehicle when the shooting took place. Police reviewed continuous footage of the truck from the night before Barnett's body was discovered until the police arrived and broke into the vehicle. No other persons were seen entering or exiting the vehicle except for Barnett. That is probably the strongest argument in favor of the suicide theory. But the entire thing still seems far too convenient and the family is requesting further information. It's hard to blame them. The entire matter still seems dubious.

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David Strom 12:40 PM | July 24, 2024
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