The New York City Medical Examiner’s office has delayed the release of the cause of death of Pastor Zachery Tims due to concerns by Tims’ family, who may be seeking a court order to keep the results sealed.
Medical examiner spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said the toxicology report, which would reveal what killed the popular Apopka preacher on Aug. 12, as well as tests on a powder found in his pocket, was on hold because “the family has expressed some concerns.” She did not say what those concerns were.
Orange-Osceola Chief Medical Examiner Jan Garavaglia said Wednesday the New York medical examiner may be awaiting a court appeal by the family to keep the results sealed. It is not unusual, she said, for a medical examiner to hold up the release of a cause of death when a family says it plans to go to court. “The ‘concern’ may be that they are going to court. They [the medical examiner’s office] may be giving them the chance to play that out,” Garavaglia said.
It is not uncommon for family members to request that a cause or death, or autopsy results, be withheld from the public, she said. In Florida, the only way to prevent that is for a judge to seal the documents. “We get that a lot: Don’t release this. We explain right up front that we have to release it,” Garavaglia said. “If you don’t want it released, you have to go to the courts.” In New York, the autopsy and toxicology reports are not public record, Borakove said. But she said the cause of death — including the presence of poisons, medications, alcohol and illicit drugs in the body — and the nature of the white powder would be released to the media.
Borakove originally said those results should be available last week. When they weren’t, she said it was because of the family’s concerns.