Family has former NFL player Jovan Belcher’s body exhumed so that testing can be done on his brain.
Jovan’s family had his body exhumed on Friday at North Babylon Cemetery in the Long Island, New York, community of Bay Shore, the family’s attorney, Dirk Vandever, told The Kansas City Star. Vandever didn’t immediately respond to an email and phone messages left on Saturday by The Associated Press.
An examination of Belcher’s brain could determine whether he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy last December when he killed his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins, with whom he had an infant daughter, in their home. Belcher then drove to the Chiefs’ practice facility and shot himself in the head in the parking lot.
Bennet Omalu, an expert on the destructive brain condition, said he “would bet one month’s salary that (Belcher) had CTE” and the local medical examiner should have performed a test for it.
CTE is a progressive disease linked to multiple concussions. It has made headlines in recent years with the deaths of some former professional athletes, and lawsuits filed against the NFL by others worried about the still unclear toll of a sport that can bring repeated blows to the head. Symptoms include memory problems, behavior changes including aggression, and eventually dementia.
Dan Ferguson, a spokesman for Jackson County, stressed the medical examiner’s job is to determine cause of death and that removal of an organ or tissue strictly for research isn’t allowed.
Belcher’s brain also could have been donated for research, but Vandever said Belcher’s family wasn’t contacted about such a donation.