Police release audio recording of former USC Keck medical school dean's questioning: 10 things to know

Alyssa Rege - Print  | 

The Pasadena (Calif.) Police Department released an audio recording of a police officer questioning Carmen Puliafito, MD, former dean of Los Angeles-based Keck School of Medicine of USC, about an overdose incident at a hotel in March 2016, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Here are 10 things to know about the incident and the recording.

1. A Pasadena-based Hotel Constance employee allegedly called 911 to report an overdose incident March 4, 2016. Dr. Puliafito, now 66, spoke to the 911 dispatcher and identified himself as a physician. He also claimed the woman who overdosed was his girlfriend and she "had a bunch of drinks and she's sleeping," according to the report. Paramedics arrived and transported the woman — Sarah Warren, now 22, — to Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena for treatment.

2. The police officers who responded to the call recorded a witness statement from Dr. Puliafito at the hospital. The Los Angeles Times filed a California Public Records Act and obtained a copy of the recording from police July 25.

3. On an unidentified police officer's audio recording, Dr. Puliafito identified himself as a friend of Ms. Warren's father and denied any involvement in a romantic relationship with Ms. Warren, the report states.

4. Dr. Puliafito told the police officer he "thought [Ms. Warren] was sleeping, and she was breathing and you know, and hadn't thrown up or anything." When asked if he noticed anything about Ms. Warren's behavior that may have alarmed him, Dr. Puliafito responded saying he was an ophthalmologist, not an emergency medicine physician, and hadn't medically evaluated her.

"I mean, I basically looked at her respirations," Dr. Puliafito allegedly said on the recording. "When I saw her at the beginning, she was responding to me."

5. Later on, a social worker from the hospital is heard asking the unidentified police officer what he thought of Dr. Puliafito's account of the incident. The two individuals speculated about Dr. Puliafito's relationship with the woman and discussed the drugs and "provocative clothing" also found at the scene, according to the report.

6. A required report on the incident was not filed until three months after the overdose incident occurred, according to the report. Police did not arrest anyone in connection with the incident, The Los Angeles Times reports.

7. Pasadena Police Chief Phillip L. Sanchez defended the department's handling of the case in a statement July 25, stating it lacked evidence to arrest Dr. Puliafito in connection with the drugs obtained at the hotel room registered in his name, according to the report.

8. It is unclear if police continued to investigate the hotel incident after questioning Dr. Puliafito at the hospital. Ms. Warren told The Los Angeles Times police never interviewed her about the incident.

9. Pasadena City Manager Steve Mermell sent a memo to city council members last week stating the publication's investigation into the incident and its findings "reflect poorly on the city and the Pasadena police department. … There should have been [a police report issued] and that was a failure on the part of our responding officer. Once this came to light, [police] undertook an appropriate investigation and ultimately the involved officer was the subject of disciplinary action." It is unclear whether the police officer was disciplined for the incident.

10. The university allegedly received "extremely troubling" information about Dr. Puliafito's drug misuse that required officials to take "serious action" July 21. USC officials initiated the process to terminate Dr. Puliafito from his faculty position at the medical school Friday.

To view the report, click here.

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