When the Death Certificate Fudges the Facts

When I was a police reporter in a small town in Texas, writing about a man’s shooting death, I asked to see his death certificate. The cause of death was listed as cardiac arrest. “He was shot. How could it be cardiac arrest?” I asked the local law-enforcement official. “Apparently, his heart stopped when the bullet entered it,” was the sardonic reply. That was decades ago, but evidently an accurate cause of death on a death certificate is still a …