The decision by the Patrol to not affirm the SPD’s determination is notable in that it diverges from the SPD’s adamant and unequivocal position since 1994 that Mr. Cobain’s death was thoroughly investigated and accurately diagnosed as suicide.
The document in question is a formal legal pleading, called an “Answer,” that was submitted to the court as part of the WSP’s defense against Courtney Love’s 1995 lawsuit against the WSP. That lawsuit sought to bar the Patrol from releasing the “suicide” note and a comparison letter, also known as the “Rome” note.
As required by court rules, the WSP document provides specific responses to each assertion, put forth as a “fact,” by the opposing party (Ms. Love). The applicable assertion by Ms. Love, contained in paragraph number “2.10” of Ms. Love’s Petition for Permanent Injunction, is that the “SPD concluded its investigation, and confirmed Mr. Cobain took his own life.”
The WSP, pursuant to court rules, had the option of responding to this assertion by 1) admitting it was true; 2) denying that it was true; or 3) claiming, as the Patrol did, that it lacked sufficient information to form an opinion as to the truth of the claim that Mr. Cobain’s death was accurately classified as suicide.
Relevantly, at issue in the 1995 lawsuit against the WSP was the WSP’s interpretation of the “suicide” note, which, again, notably diverged from the SPD’s position with regard to the note. As the legal document also indicates, the WSP declined to admit both that the greenhouse note found near Mr. Cobain’s body was “a personal letter to his family” or that the greenhouse note and comparison letter contained “deeply personal and intimate thoughts of Mr. Cobain directed principally to his spouse and daughter,” claiming again lack of sufficient information to do so.
Importantly, but for the initiation of the lawsuit by Ms. Love, the Patrol was prepared to release both the “suicide” note and the comparison letter into the public domain.
The Cobain file published online by the Seattle Police Department in 2015 contains the legal pleadings and affidavits (AKA “declarations”) from Ms. Love’s legal team, but not the legal records submitted by the WSP in its defense, including the legal record at issue in this article.
Norm Stamper, the chief of the SPD at the time of Mr. Cobain’s passing, recently acknowledged that errors were made in the investigation into Mr. Cobain’s death and that, if chief again, he would reopen the case. Chief Stamper noted in particular that the behavioral patterns of those with a motive to see Mr. Cobain dead should have been studied.
A 2014 review by the SPD of the 1994 investigation into Mr. Cobain’s death, however, reaffirmed the suicide verdict. The full scope of that review, though, appears very limited and a number of its conclusions, arguably as a result of bias stemming from severe investigative errors committed during the 1994 investigation, appear forensically unsound.