Boeing whistleblower died of suicide, police investigation reveals

Boeing whistleblower died of suicide, police investigation reveals

Boeing whistleblower John Barnett died by suicide, according to a police report released Friday, ending an investigation into the shocking death of a longtime employee who raised concerns about the planemaker’s safety and production standards — and who is suing the company, alleging Boeing illegally retaliated. against him.

Barnett, 62, was found dead in a vehicle on March 9 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Charleston, South Carolina. Officers were dispatched to conduct a welfare check on Barnett at the Holiday Inn when he failed to show up for a deposition in his case against Boeing, according to his attorney and a police incident report.

When they arrived, responding officers found Barnett dead in the driver’s seat of the truck in the parking lot. He’s holding a gun. Initial police reports also said there was a note inside the truck.

But Barnett’s lawyer said in a statement after his death that his deposition was almost over and he appeared to be in good spirits.

“We did not see any indication that he would take his own life. No one can believe it,” her attorneys, Robert Turkewitz and Brian Knowles, said in a statement on March 12. “Charleston police need to investigate this matter fully and accurately and tell the public what they find.”

The Charleston Police Department on Friday concluded its investigation into Barnett’s death, saying the Charleston County Coroner’s Office determined that Barnett had killed himself.

An investigation found Barnett had been shot in the head at close range and the weapon was found in his right hand. There was also a notebook found in the front seat of the car that showed signs that “she was going through a period of serious personal distress,” according to a media release about the police investigation.

Police shared with CNN an image of a note left in the car, which had several disparaging messages directed at Boeing.

“As this investigation draws to a close, we should not forget that it represents the loss of Mr. Barnett’s life,” police said, “We extend our deepest sympathies to his family during this difficult time and hope they continue to find the strength to carry on. in absence.”

Boeing could not immediately be reached for comment. In March, the company said it was saddened by Barnett’s death.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends,” the company said.

The security charge is over
Barnett, a former quality manager who has worked at Boeing for decades, told the New York Times in 2019 that he had discovered unsafe wiring clusters in Boeing’s manufacturing process that, if severed by nearby metal fragments, could lead to major airplane failures.

“As a quality manager at Boeing, you’re the last line of defense before defects become public,” Barnett told the Times. “And I haven’t seen a plane out of Charleston yet that I’ve put my name to saying it’s safe and airworthy.”

In a statement sent to factory workers and provided to CNN at the time, Brad Zaback, site leader at the plant and general manager of the 787 program, said the Times report “paints a skewed and inaccurate picture of our program and team (at the plant). ”

Zaback, who said the Times declined an invitation to tour the factory, said “quality is fundamental to who we are,” adding that the factory delivers “high-quality airplanes.”

Since Barnett’s initial public warning about Boeing, the company has suffered a number of high-profile safety and quality problems, including a door plug that broke off on the 737 Max shortly after takeoff in January. That led the US Department of Justice to announce this week that Boeing could face criminal prosecution because of its history of safety problems.

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