Sherman files petition to change ruling

Updated: November 9, 2003, 10:36 PM ET
Associated Press

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Packers assistant coach Ray Sherman and his wife filed a petition to have their son's death ruled an accident.

Ray Sherman Jr., 14, died May 18 after shooting himself in the head with his father's pistol in the family garage.

Brown County Medical Examiner Al Klimek initially ruled the death a suicide but changed the manner of death last week to undetermined.

The Shermans filed a petition Friday in Brown County Circuit Court that asked a judge to change the death certificate. A court date has not been set.

"We will do whatever it takes to clear our son's name and fight for his honor," Ray Sherman said Sunday at a news conference.

The Shermans' lawyer, Avram Berk, had two forensic scientists and a psychiatrist review the case. He said they believed what happened was an accident.

"We have given the acting medical examiner every opportunity to do the right thing, and he continually refuses to do so," Berk said. "We have been left with no choice but to file this petition."

Klimek initially said he ruled Ray Sherman Jr.'s death a suicide because the boy had to take deliberate, intentional steps -- retrieving and loading the gun, disengaging safeties and placing it against his temple -- before pulling the trigger.

But he changed his ruling because the teen displayed no signs of wanting to hurt himself. A message left for Klimek at his home Sunday by The Associated Press was not returned.

The Shermans have maintained their son had no reason to commit suicide, calling him a happy teen who got along with his friends.

Yvette Sherman said the idea her son committed suicide never crossed her mind.

"I am a mother trying to find my way to grieve my son, and I find myself in a tremendous fight to clear his name and preserve his legacy," she said.

Ray Sherman, the receivers coach for the Packers, said he blamed himself for his son's death and planned to advocate gun safety for youths.

"This is a very painful reality for me," he said. "I take full responsibility for what happened. I had guns in my house. They were not properly locked up or put away. Ray was not educated on gun safety."

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press