clear
Wednesday December 13th, 2017 2:17AM

Famed 'Concussion' pathologist alleges autopsy interference

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — San Joaquin County's chief medical examiner, known nationally as the doctor depicted in the movie "Concussion" about brain injuries among football players, resigned Tuesday over what he said was interference by the sheriff that has become so invasive that it borders on the unlicensed practice of medicine.

Dr. Bennet Omalu accused Sheriff-Coroner Steve Moore of routinely interfering with death investigations to protect law enforcement officers.

"I had observed long before this that the sheriff was using his political office as the coroner to influence the death investigation of persons who die while in custody or during arrest by the police," Omalu wrote in documents he provided to The Associated Press and other media. He said the interference "has become routine practice" since last year.

Omalu said he will stop conducting autopsies immediately and noted his departure won't take effect for three months under his county contract.

The coroner's division referred calls to sheriff's department spokesman Deputy Dave Konecny, who did not return messages seeking comment Tuesday.

Moore told radio station KQED that he doesn't interfere in death investigations, but as the elected coroner he can make the final decision on whether to rule the manner of death an accident, homicide, suicide or the result of natural causes.

In the documents, Omalu and his assistant, Dr. Susan Parson, a forensic pathologist who resigned last week, said the interference at times included ordering that hands be cut off corpses without telling the pathologists.

Moore told the radio station that he would sometimes order the hands removed from corpses that were too decomposed to identify so they could be sent to the California Department of Justice's crime lab for fingerprinting.

Omalu declined to comment beyond what was included in the documents.

Omalu and Parson said they turned over voluminous memos to county supervisors and the district attorney. The district attorney's office said it is gathering information on homicide cases, including deaths involving law enforcement officers.

Last year, Omalu said, he ruled the death of a 26-year-old man a homicide by blunt force trauma after the man fought with police and with other residents.

"The sheriff called me into his office and told me that he wanted to make it an accident since officers were involved," Omalu wrote. "He said that I should amend my report and state that he died from the civilians and not the police officers."

He cited similar cases in 2013 and another in 2016 where he said he later learned the sheriff changed a homicide ruling involving an officer to an accidental death.

He also cited a 2007 case, early in his time in California, when he said a 47-year-old man died while being arrested.

"Information was intentionally withheld from me by the sheriff in order to mislead me from determining the case to be a homicide," Omalu wrote. "The sheriff still went behind my back months later and changed the manner of death to an accident to minimize the seriousness of the case."

The San Joaquin County Medical Society called the allegations "alarming."

"Physician independence is paramount to avoid improper influence on the practice of medicine," said Dr. R. Grant Mellor, president of the San Joaquin County Medical Society. "We urge the proper authorities to conduct a full investigation."

A statement issued by the office of District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar said prosecutors do not rely on coroner's reports when they decide whether to file criminal charges. The office does its own independent review of the pathology reports as well as reports from other law enforcement agencies.

Earlier in his career, Omalu discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy in a former NFL football player.

His findings ultimately led the league to adopt new safety rules designed to prevent concussions.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Football, AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, AP Health, AP Entertainment, AP Online Movies News
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Bannon savages GOP leaders in fight for Alabama Senate seat
Steve Bannon savages national Republican leaders in increasingly ugly fight for Alabama Senate seat
9:45PM ( 14 minutes ago )
The Latest: Moore promises to bring 'Alabama values' to DC
Wounded by allegations of sexual misconduct, Alabama Republican Roy Moore is embracing his role as outsider in the Alabama race for U.S. Senate
9:43PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Trump forges ahead on Jerusalem-as-capital despite warnings
U.S. officials say President Donald Trump will recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital on Wednesday and instruct the State Department to begin a multi-year process of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city
9:36PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
2 students shot, wounded near Washington state high school
Authorities say two students reportedly were shot outside a high school south of Seattle in Graham
8:05PM ( 1 hour ago )
Jeter says Marlins have made no decision about Stanton
New Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter says the team has made no decision regarding right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, who is on the trading block following an MVP season
7:48PM ( 2 hours ago )
Kennedy seems conflicted in Supreme Court wedding cake case
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has voiced competing concerns in arguments about a Colorado baker who wouldn't make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple
7:43PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Sports
Famed 'Concussion' pathologist alleges autopsy interference
San Joaquin County's chief medical examiner resigned over what he said was interference by the sheriff that has become so invasive that it borders on the unlicensed practice of medicine
6:38PM ( 3 hours ago )
Oklahoma RB Anderson accused of sexual assault; he denies it
Woman who filed petition for protective order against Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson accuses him of sexually assaulting her
6:13PM ( 3 hours ago )
Rivals Manning, Spurrier enter College Hall of Fame together
Peyton Manning and Steve Spurrier, rivals in the SEC in the mid-1990s, are inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame together
6:00PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online Football
In Europe, Tillerson carries on but with diminished standing
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's tenuous future in the Trump administration is following him to Europe
8:57PM ( 1 hour ago )
2 arrested in missing girls found near makeshift compound
Police say two Utah men are under arrest after search near a remote, makeshift compound turned up two girls taken by their father to join an upstart sect relatives say is based around polygamy and doomsday
8:49PM ( 1 hour ago )
GOP leaders now backing Moore, despite allegations
Republican leaders in Washington are coming to grips with the possibility _ perhaps even probability _ of Alabama's Roy Moore in the U.S. Senate
8:25PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Terry Crews sues agent over alleged groping incident
Terry Crews has filed a lawsuit against the man he claims groped him at a Hollywood party last year
7:54PM ( 2 hours ago )
Google blocks YouTube on Amazon devices in escalating feud
Google is pulling its popular YouTube video service from Amazon's Fire TV and Echo Show streaming devices in an escalating feud that has caught consumers in the crossfire
6:59PM ( 3 hours ago )
Conyers resigns from Congress amid harassment allegations
Democratic Rep. John Conyers has resigned from Congress after being besieged by allegations he sexually harassed women he worked for him
6:25PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
Blake Lively hurt during production of 'The Rhythm Section'
Production has been halted on the film 'The Rhythm Section' after actress Blake Lively was injured on set
7:01PM ( 1 day ago )
Director Bryan Singer departs Queen biopic mid-production
Director Bryan Singer has left the Queen biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody" in the middle of production
6:30PM ( 1 day ago )
Russian court keeps theater director under house arrest
A Moscow court has ruled to keep a prominent theater and film director who is being investigate for fraud under house arrest
9:34AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Movies News
Trump forges ahead on Jerusalem-as-capital despite warnings
U.S. officials say President Donald Trump will recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital on Wednesday and instruct the State Department to begin a multi-year process of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city
9:36PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Mexican acquitted of murder faces gun, immigration charges
Federal authorities on Tuesday charged a Mexican man with new immigration and gun violations less than a week after a San Francisco jury acquitted him of murder for the shooting death of Kate Steinle
9:31PM ( 28 minutes ago )
Model in Britain's sex-and-spy Profumo scandal dies at 75
Christine Keeler, the central figure in the sex-and-espionage Profumo scandal that rocked Cold War Britain, has died
9:29PM ( 31 minutes ago )
Clinton signs books in New Hampshire, demurs on voter fraud
Hillary Clinton says she's always eager to return to New Hampshire, though she isn't saying what she thinks of President Donald Trump's unsubstantiated claim that rampant voter fraud led to her victory in the state
9:24PM ( 36 minutes ago )
Malicious-prosecution suit against Joe Arpaio goes to trial
Jurors who will decide a malicious-prosecution trial against former Sheriff Joe Arpaio were told about the emotional distress that one of Sen. Jeff Flake's sons suffered from a now-dismissed animal cruelty case that the lawman brought against him
9:17PM ( 43 minutes ago )