An iconic Bay Area tunnel, commonly known as the Waldo Tunnel or Rainbow Tunnel, will be named after the late actor Robin Williams.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Marin County officials are defending their decision to release graphic details about Robin Williams’ suicide.
They have faced some criticism on social media for a press conference Tuesday in which officials laid out how Williams died and how he was found.
An official with the sheriff’s office said the release of information was required under California public records laws.
“These kinds of cases, whether they garner national attention or not, are very difficult for everyone involved,” Marin County Assistant Deputy Chief Coroner Lt. Keith Boyd said in an email to Fox News. “Frankly, it would have been our personal preference to withhold a lot of what we disclosed ... but the California Public Records Act does not give us that kind of latitude.”
At a news conference, Boyd revealed that Williams, 63, used a belt to asphyxiate himself and may have also tried to cut his wrists with a pocket knife.
He then went on to reveal that rigor mortis had already set in by the time Williams’ personal assistant discovered the body in a slightly elevated position.
While the level of detail Boyd presented is routinely available on a coroner’s report for any member of the public to view upon request, it’s not often that authorities discuss them in front of cameras and a podium capped with microphones. The news conference was broadcast on several TV stations and live-tweeted by members of the media, all of which drew the ire of the public.
“I really wish they didn’t release the details of how Robin Williams was found. People will be focusing on that, instead of the person he was,” wrote Twitter user Lisa.
Brian White, who identifies himself as a digital and broadcast news reporter in Arizona, said there was nothing to gain from the new information.
“I deliberately didn’t have any sound from the Marin County presser because there’s no news value in the salacious details of Williams’ death,” he tweeted.
Boyd did tell reporters that the department is taking precautions to keep other details of Williams’ death private. The autopsy was performed in Napa County, where a government-run facility operates.
In Marin County, authorities use a private company for its autopsies, Boyd said. The department chose to go to Napa to ensure no photos or details would be leaked, he said.