They say honesty is the best policy. In the case of Coroner Shannon Cooper, I might disagree — unless you are a voter in East Baton Rouge Parish who wants to understand just how he rolls.
When I read yesterday’s Daily Report edition of the Baton Rouge Business Report, my first thought was that Coroner Shannon Cooper needed a new political consultant.
Cooper chose to reveal his true self by honestly responding as to his intention of how to deal with protestors that planned to show up at his office today:
Cooper’s words spoke volumes as to how our Coroner really feels about the 7,000 to 8,000 families his office deals with annually.
Cooper’s words are powerful:
Where is the compassion for families who have lost loved ones?
How much time would it have taken for Cooper to drive from the Baton Rouge General Hospital or Surgical Specialty Center, where he is listed as a staff member? Either one of these locations are less than 30 minutes away from the Coroner’s Office.
Instead of taking a few minutes out of his private practice, Cooper takes the position that this is much ado about nothing.
Try telling that to families who have lost their loved ones.
Is Cooper a man we want to re-elect?
Can Cooper possibly explain to the voters and residents of East Baton Rouge Parish why he so cavalierly wrote off families who had legitimate questions?
What about the Temple family who was there to ask why their son’s drivers license was found at the home of death investigator, Raymond Levie, in December, 2010? Their son was killed in 2006.
The Traylor family was also present at the protest. Keith Traylor, the organizer of the protest, is the father of Jeremy who died of a drug overdose in 2009. This family has suffered unbelievable heartaches because the Coroner misdiagnosed their son’s death, and changed the cause of death after they buried their son.
Nearly 50 families whose loved ones died in East Baton Rouge Parish, are not even aware of the fact that the drivers licenses, ID cards, and medications was stolen by death investigator Raymond Levie, taken to his home, and kept in body bags and closets.
Maybe you know some of the families listed in the Baton Rouge Police Department Report? Maybe you are one of those families?
Perhaps the most disconcerting issue is the fact that the Coroner claims he was unaware of these facts.
This is not true according to the BR Police report. That report states that 6 months prior to the murder-suicide that resulted in the death of Raymond Levie by Shawn Jones (who then turned the gun on himself) at T. J. Ribs, the Coroner was contacted by the acting Police Chief in an effort to have Cooper come to his office to discuss numerous complaints and the contents of a search warrant performed on Levie’s home.
The Coroner also dismissed the Police Chief by responding that if he wanted a meeting, he could come to his office because he wasn’t going to the Chief’s office.
That is arrogance in its highest form.
I wonder which one of Cooper’s offices he was referring to?
One thing I have learned through this story is that EBR Coroner Shannon Cooper doesn’t even go the Coroner’s Office most of the time. I personally called all three of his offices to find out that he works as a pathologist outside of the Coroner’s Office — that he has turned over the reigns of the Coroner’s Office to his Chief Operating Officer, Don Moreau, who is the only person that is willing to even take your calls.
Clarification: Though Cooper met with Traylor awhile back, he refused to supply their family with requested documents. Furthermore, Cooper refused to acknowledge Traylor and other families on the day of their protest.
According to the Traylor family, when they met with the Coroner, Moreau talked over Cooper and took over the meeting in short order, refusing to provide the family with documentation they requested. This confirms who is really in charge at the Coroner’s Office, and it’s not Cooper!
What we have here is yet another politician who is glad to claim a title, the prestige of an elected office, to pick up a paycheck — but not show up to perform the duties he was elected by the people to do. My understanding is that paycheck is significant – nearly $100,000 annually. Pretty hefty check for someone who doesn’t show up!
Instead of dismissing these families/protestors, perhaps it would have been in Cooper’s best interest to show up and take a moment or two to share a little compassion for these family members whose lives were turned upside down?
Instead, Cooper said:
It will be business as usual.
The EBRP Coroner’s Office is on call 24/7; they are charged with the responsibility of investigating untimely deaths, determining causes of death, and assessing whether individuals require commitment for further assessment or treatment that are mentally ill or drug dependent.
I have some advice for Coroner Shannon Cooper:
Keep your job at the Baton Rouge General and Surgical Center, because we prefer to elect someone who will show a little kindness, and commit to the responsibilities of their office!
Until next time,
Red Stick Republican
To Mrs. Levie, who responded to me in writing regarding this blog: I have made two corrections, as noted in red above, to clarify statements.
Regarding your question as to what good would it have done for Dr. Cooper to go out side and speak with the protestors, I would respond that he was elected to serve the public, and if a family asks for a second, or third meeting, it should be granted with the Coroner or one of his appointed representatives. To not do so is to ignore the very families he claims he is mindful of on his website — those left behind. They deserve nothing less. I am saddened by the loss of all families who have lost loved ones whether by murder, suicide or drug overdoses. My condolences to you. Let’s hope that the new Coroner has a better open door policy.