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King Autopsy Pictures Used as Medical School Teaching Aid

May 11, 1985

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) _ The widow of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. says use of her husband’s autopsy pictures in a University of Tennessee classroom was ″a personal offense to the King family.″

Dr. Robert L. Summitt, dean of the Center for Health Sciences, said he has apologized to Corretta Scott King and promised that the pictures would no longer be used as a teaching aid.

Summitt acted after medical students complained that they were upset by slides showing King with his lower jaw and part of his neck ripped away by a rifle shot. King was murdered in Memphis in 1968.

Charlotte Boney, a first-year medical student, said she was shocked when slides of King were displayed during a lecture on gunshot wounds.

″It was awful. That’s not the way I want to remember him, and now that’s exactly how I will remember him,″ she said.

Mrs. King issued a statement in Atlanta, calling the episode ″a personal offense to the King family.″

″I am gratified that a number of medical students were sensitive enough to recognize the inappropriateness of the use of these slides,″ she said.

Summitt said he has told his staff not to use any autopsy photographs in which a person is identifiable.

Dr. O.C. Smith, a pathology instructor, said he put together the lecture and slide show several years ago, and included the King slides because the wounds ″are so characteristic of the awewome destructiveness of high-velocity weapons.″

Summitt said he did not plan to discipline anyone because the affair.

″The instructor used these pictures in good faith - in poor judgment, yes, but without malice,″ he said.

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