Dr. Bennet Omalu, the well-known doctor credited with discovering chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), is resigning from his position as a forensic pathologist with San Joaquin county, claiming interference from Sheriff Steve Moore.
Omalu’s resignation comes eight days after his fellow forensic pathologist Dr. Susan Parson submitted her resignation to the county.
In his letter of resignation, Omalu shared sections of Parson’s letter, in which she details Moore’s “retaliatory behavior” and “attempts to control and influence [the pathologists’] professional judgment and conclusions.” In San Joaquin County, the sheriff also serves as the coroner, a combined position which is common in many California counties.
Omalu wrote in his letter that he “must unfortunately stand by what Dr. Parson has most succinctly and precisely said.” He explained Moore first attempted to influence his professional judgment in 2007, when Omalu said he was prevented from going to crime scenes.
Omalu said he met with Moore many times and gave him memos explaining that Moore was not legally allowed to influence a doctor’s work, given that Moore is not a doctor himself.
“He dismissed me and stated that Dr. Parson and I work for him, and as long as we were his workers, that we must do anything and everything he asks us to do, even when we considered his actions acting against our standards of practice and the generally accepted principles of medicine,” Omalu wrote. He said Moore cut the hands off of bodies at the morgue after autopsies had been completed without the pathologists’ knowledge.
The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office said on its Facebook page they have received memos related to the forensic pathologists’ allegations. The D.A.’s office said it does not rely on coroner’s reports to file cases, but instead does independent reviews of pathology reports and reports from other investigating law enforcement agencies.
Following Parson’s resignation, Moore denied the pathologist’s allegations in an interview with ABC10 News reporter Kurt Rivera, saying, “I can't speak to retaliatory behavior because I don't know anything about what she means or what she is speaking of or what manner."
The sherif added, “As far as arrogant behavior, I don't understand that either. However, I am the coroner and I am the elected coroner in this county. This is not a medical examiner's office. Therefore, I am in charge and I am responsible.”
Omalu's contract requires that he give three months' notice; his last day will be March 5, 2018.