Renowned pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu resigns as chief medical examiner, alleges sheriff ordered hands cut off corpses

Bennet Omalu, MD, a world-renowned pathologist, resigned as chief medical examiner of San Joaquin County in California Tuesday following interference by Steve Moore, the county's sheriff and coroner, according to The Sacramento Bee.

In his resignation letter, Dr. Omalu alleges Mr. Moore unnecessarily cut the hands off corpses when other methods of identification were available. He also claims Mr. Moore tried to influence his cause-of-death determinations in cases of police-involved deaths to shift blame away from the department

"Before I began my documentation in May 2017, 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," Dr. Omalu wrote in an Aug. 22 memo, according to The Sacramento Bee. "I had thought that this was initially an anomaly, but now, especially beginning in 2016, it has become routine practice."

Dr. Omalu came to national attention for his work identifying brain damage in former NFL players and was portrayed by Will Smith in the 2015 film "Concussion."

Dr. Omalu's colleague Susan Parson, MD, resigned last week amid similar complaints. Dr. Omalu will retain his position until March 5, 2018 but will not perform any new autopsies in order to address the 150 body backlog he is facing.

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