The Medical Examiner's Office operates by the authority of the laws of the State of Washington, for the purpose of making a determination of the cause and manner of death. The outcome of the work of the Medical Examiner is knowledge concerning deaths that are of forensic concern, which is knowledge needed to see that justice is done, public safety is improved, and public health is protected.
The Medical Examiner's Office investigates those deaths occurring in Pierce County, which are under their jurisdiction and are of concern to public health, safety and welfare. This includes all violent or otherwise unnatural deaths and deaths of apparent natural causes that occur suddenly or under suspicious or unexplained circumstances.
Based on the evidence discovered, the Medical Examiner's Office makes every attempt to accurately determine the identity and circumstances leading up to the death through thorough death investigations. Modern medical and forensic science is applied to the death investigation process by highly trained technical staff so that murder shall be recognized, the innocent shall be exonerated and previously unrecognized public health and industrial hazards shall be revealed.
Additional Responsibilities & Jurisdiction
While interacting and cooperating with many state, county and municipal agencies, the Medical Examiner's Office provides for an independent assessment of an individual's death. This objective and independent role of the Medical Examiner's Office calls for sound and impartial forensic medical documentation and testimony for both criminal and civil law proceedings. The Medical Examiner's Office has jurisdiction over human remains in certain cases as defined by Washington State Law RCW 68.50.010. The Medical Examiner's Office has statutory authority to perform autopsies without family permission.