Details of Martin Luther King Jr.’s autopsy
Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. The activist died in a Tennessee hospital. Find out what Martin Luther King's autopsy report says.
- Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
- The activist died in a Tennessee hospital at about 7:05 p.m.
- Find out what Martin Luther King’s autopsy report says.
Find out what Martin Luther King Jr.’s autopsy report says. MLK was one of the most important American activists of all time and author of the famous ‘I Have A Dream’ speech, whose message continues to resonate more than fifty years after his death.
On Thursday, April 4, 1968 King was assassinated while he was on the balcony of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. He had traveled there as part of his Poor People’s Campaign. Find out what his autopsy report says.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s autopsy: The Anatomical examination
The Tennessee Department of Public Health was commissioned to perform the autopsy on Martin Luther King Jr. In the midst of the commotion caused by his death, the forensic doctors found the bullet caused injuries to both his body and face.
He suffered a fractured jaw, a laceration in the vertebral artery, in the jugular vein, in the subclavian artery and in the spinal cord, as well as an intrapulmonary hematoma. All of this caused his death, despite the efforts to revive him when he arrived at the hospital.
The cause of MLK’s death
Martin Luther King Jr.’s autopsy found that his cause of death was a gun shot that impacted his neck and thorax. The medical examination found that the shot hit his jaw and neck, destroying the entire upper part of his thorax.
The doctors who treated King upon his arrival at St. Joseph’s Hospital could do nothing to repair his injuries. The forensic report was conclusive: The magnitude of the spinal cord injuries were too great to save the activist’s life.
He was killed by one shot
After presenting the results of Martin Luther King’s autopsy, Jerry T. Francisco, M.D., who was responsible for the exam, was subjected to media scrutiny that called into question both his medical ability and the accuracy of his findings.
Because of this, three outside medical examiners reviewed all the autopsy results, including taking samples such as the clothing King wore on the day of his death, as well as some photographs recovered from the scene and body tissue taken on the first forensic examination.
What happened next?
To get even more conclusive results, the medical panel took into account x-rays, medical reports, testimony from the doctors who received MLK at the hospital and from others who provided medical care in an attempt to save his life at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tennessee.
In the end, it was determined that Martin Luther King Jr.’s first autopsy showed inconclusive results due to Francisco’s inability to perform the exam properly. The official conclusion is that Luther King died from a shot fired in the direction of his face.