BROOMFIELD, Colo. (KDVR) – The chief coroner for Adams and Broomfield counties said she would not hesitate to terminate her agreement to provide autopsy services to the City and County of Broomfield if she continues to perceive a lack of confidence in her work by the City Council.
“If the Broomfield council members lack confidence in the services my office provides, then you need to find a new coroner for your community,” Monica Broncucia-Jordan, the coroner, told council members during a meeting on Jan. 12.
During a December council meeting at which the renewal of Broncucia-Jordan’s contract was discussed and approved while she was not present, some council members raised questions and concerns about Broncucia-Jordan’s role in reviewing the controversial death of Elijah McClain, in Adams County, in 2019.
As the chief coroner, she signed McClain’s autopsy, which ruled the cause of his death to be “undetermined.” The report also found that his death could have been an accident, natural or a homicide.
Broncucia-Jordan took issue with the concerns and questions that she was unable to address during the December meeting, since she was not present, and she later told city leaders that she would sever ties with Broomfield.
However, after an apology and a plea from the mayor, she reconsidered the $364,500 annual contract and agreed to once again provide services and to appear at the Jan. 12 meeting to answer questions.
“In the 10 years that I have served your community, I have never witnessed or experienced the lack of professionalism, lack of communication and dysfunction that I have seen over the past few weeks,” she told the council during the meeting.
She also accused some council members, including Deven Shaff, of “utilizing this extremely tragic death (of Elijah McClain) for their own political aggrandizement.”
“Mr. McClain’s death occurred nearly 17 months ago. In those 17 months, not a single one of you has contacted me to ask questions or express concerns about his case or to merely learn the general standards of practices my office uses to investigate police-involved deaths,” she said to the council. “Instead you chose to use this tragedy as an opportunity to grandstand.”
During Tuesday’s meeting last week, Shaff asked several questions of Broncucia-Jordan, including what her role was in the McClain autopsy and her standards for seeking a second opinion when a death is ruled “undetermined.”
Broncucia-Jordan, who said she believed she assisted in McClain’s case, told the council each case is handled on an individual basis.
“It is not common practice or policy in my office to seek a second opinion, nor is that standard of practice in the United States,” she said. “However, all cases can be reviewed at any point in time by any other professional.”
While some council members expressed support for Shaff’s questions, others said they were too much.
“I do think that the intent of this was to give her a chance to talk to us publicly but not to be grilled again in public, so I’d like the council to consider not taking this line of questioning,” said council person Kimberly Groom.
“Part of the point about to night was to give Miss Broncucia-Jordan the chance to respond in public to the questions that had been made in public, and so my point is, that was the point of tonight’s meeting,” said Mayor Patrick Quinn, who told FOX31 the relationship with Broncucia-Jordan is fragile.
Shaff said he thought the purpose of inviting the coroner to the meeting was so that he could publicly ask questions of her. “I understood from my first, actually my second question to Miss Broncucia-Jordan that she could not comment or answer questions regarding Elijah McClain…I do still have concerns but perhaps I’m not going to be able to ask the rest of my questions tonight and won’t be able to get the answers that I need.”
Broncucia-Jordan said she would be happy to host the council at her facility to field additional questions about her practice, and Shaff said he would attend the meeting.