News and Commentary

Nashville Police Agree To Reinvestigate ‘Muzzle Threat’ After Fired Vaccine Official Rejects Evidence She Bought It Herself
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - July 21, 2021: Dr. Michelle Fiscus MDFAAP, 52, of Franklin, Tenn., poses for a portrait in her home. Fiscus was the Medical Director for vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization programs at the Tennessee Department of Health until she was fired. Fiscus believes she was fired for sharing the state's "mature minor" doctrine, which says kids 14 and older can get medical care without parental consent..
William DeShazer for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Earlier in August, Dr. Michelle Fiscus — Tennessee’s former top vaccination official — was thought to have sent herself a dog muzzle, following an investigation into claims that it used as a threat.

As the Tennessean reported at the time, a new investigative report from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security indicated that “the muzzle was paid for with Dr. Michelle Fiscus’ own American Express credit card,” noting that this “revelation” was “sure to raise questions about her credibility.”

“There is no evidence to indicate that the dog muzzle was intended to threaten Dr. Fiscus,” Special Agent Mario Vigil wrote in a memo attached to the case after it closed, while Fiscus denied sending the muzzle to herself.

However, one week after state law enforcement closed the threat investigation, Nashville police have reportedly agreed to reinvestigate the case at Fiscus’ request. The former vaccine official — who was fired in July — has asked for the case to be “investigated by a law enforcement agency that had no affiliation with the state government.”

“I am concerned that the first investigation was not complete,” Fiscus said. “While they determined the muzzle was purchased through an Amazon account created in my name and charged to my credit card, they made no effort to determine how the account was opened or how the muzzle was ordered.”

As the Tennessean reported, Kris Mumford, a spokesperson for the Nashville police department, said the investigation has been assigned to the fraud unit and the case classification is “harassment — cause emotional distress, intimidation.”

“Fiscus, a former Williamson County pediatrician who worked for about two years as the medical director for vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization programs at the Tennessee Department of Health, became a contentious figure in Tennessee since she was abruptly fired amid a worsening pandemic and then immediately became a vocal critic of the state government and administration of Gov. Bill Lee,” the report added. “Fiscus argues she was fired due to pressure from conservative state lawmakers who were angry she circulated accurate and routine information about Tennessee’s Mature Minor Doctrine — which allows teenagers to be vaccinated against coronavirus without permission from their parents — in a basic function of her job.”

Days before she was fired, Fiscus claimed to have received an anonymous Amazon package that contained a black dog muzzle. The investigation that followed found no evidence that the dog muzzle was “intended to harm Fiscus” and that “she may have sent it to herself.” 

“The muzzle was not purchased on Fiscus’s primary Amazon account, which she had disclosed to investigators, but they determined it was instead sent by a second Amazon account that used the same credit card and listed her health department office as its address,” the Tennessean noted. 

“The first account was the account that Dr. Fiscus allowed us to review during our interview with her. The second account was the account that the muzzle was purchased on,” said Special Agent Mario Vigil in an investigation summary.

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