San Joaquin County Sheriff denies interference claims

The San Joaquin County Sheriff is denying a forensic pathologists allegations of that he interfered with forensic investigations while overseeing the county's coroner's office.

Steve Moore, sheriff-coroner for San Joaquin County, said in a statement he was "saddened" to hear of the resignation by Dr. Bennet Omalu, but disputed the pathologists' allegations.

Omalu resigned from his position as a forensic pathologist with San Joaquin county Tuesday, claiming the sheriff interfered with investigations, at times even asking to "change the manner of death" in cases involving law enforcement officers.

"That has never happened," Moore said in a statement. "I would never try to control, influence, or change the opinions of Dr. Omalu or any pathologist working on a case, but I have the responsibility of making the final determination."

Omalu’s resignation came a week after another one of the county's forensic pathologist Dr. Susan Parson submitted her resignation.

In his resignation letter, Omalu said Moore cut the hands off of bodies at the morgue after autopsies had been completed without the pathologists’ knowledge. Moore didn't deny the claim, but instead offered reasoning for the "rare" decisions to do so.

"In very rare occasions," Moore explained, "when a person cannot be identified, ... the Coroner's Office will remove a digit or hand and send it to the California Department of Justice to be processed at their lab."

Moore is currently serving in his third term as San Joaquin County's sheriff.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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