The coroner for the Amador County Sheriff’s Office in California on Monday criticized the spread of “misinformation” surrounding the death of Obama administration-era whistleblower Philip Haney, saying it is “extremely premature and inappropriate” to deem it a “suicide.”
Law enforcement reportedly discovered the body of the 66-year-old former U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official less than three miles from his home on February 21 in Amador Country, the coroner indicated in a statement to news outlets issued on Monday.
Amador County is located about 40 miles east of Sacramento.
The coroner stated:
Unfortunately, there was misinformation immediately being put out that we have determined Mr. Haney’s death to be a suicide. This is not the case. We are currently in the beginning phase of our investigation and any final determination as to the cause and manner of Mr. Haney’s death would be extremely premature and inappropriate. No determination will be made until all evidence is examined and analyzed.
This investigation is still active and will be ongoing.
The coroner’s statement came after the Amador County Sheriff’s Office reportedly indicated Haney’s death appeared to be the result of “a single, self-inflicted gunshot wound” to the chest, prompting news outlets to report the former DHS official’s demise as a suicide.
Gunshot wounds to the chest, however, are inconsistent with suicides, data reportedly show.
The FBI is assisting county authorities with the investigation, the coroner said, noting:
We have reached out to our law enforcement partners in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to assist in analyzing documents, phone records, and a laptop that were recovered from the scene and Mr. Haney’s RV. We are currently in possession of his vehicle, the firearm located at the scene, and his RV and we will be requesting evidence processing assistance from the FBI on those items as well.
Our investigators conducted a neighborhood canvas and interviewed his RV park neighbors on the day of the incident along with checking key areas for any video surveillance that may exist from that time.
The Sacramento County Coroner’s Office is expected to conduct a forensic autopsy on Haney’s body, the statement added.
While testifying as a whistleblower before the Senate Judiciary Committee in June 2016, Haney asserted DHS ordered him to delete hundreds of files of people with links to radical Islamist terrorist groups. He argued authorities could have prevented several U.S.-based terrorist attacks if DHS had not scrubbed the data.
Haney’s death has prompted a wave of claims, including from U.S. officials, suggesting he may have been a victim of foul play.