SLO County medical examiner accused of misconduct
April 14, 2017
By KAREN VELIE
The California Attorney General’s Office is seeking to revoke or suspend the license of San Luis Obispo County’s medical examiner, Dr. Gary Walter. Walter stands accused of committed a crime that substantially impacts his ability to properly perform his job, according to an accusation filed on April 10.
On March 9, 2016, Walter was involved in a hit and run while on his way to perform an autopsy. Shortly before 8 a.m., Walter was spotted speeding down Broad Street near Orcutt Road with a blown front tire and steam pouring from the front end of his Cadillac Escalade truck, according to the police report.
By the time San Luis Obispo police officers arrived, Walter had pulled his truck over near Tank Farm Road, just a half of a mile from the county medical examination facility, the police report says.
Officers then transported Walter to French Hospital Medical Center for a blood test that showed an alcohol concentration of .19.
Even so, he was not prosecuted for the hit and run “and the parties stipulated to a blood alcohol content of .08 for purposes of resolution,” according to the accusation.
After a physician is convicted of a crime, the California Medical Board launches an investigation. If the investigation finds evidence that the physician has violated the Medical Practice Act and the violation warrants disciplinary action, the case is forwarded to the Attorney General’s Office.
Walter has until April 25 to dispute the charges in the allegation and ask for a hearing. If Walter does not dispute the allegations, the board may decide to revoke or suspend his medical license.
On Jan. 25, Walter conducted an autopsy on Andrew Holland, a 36-year-old man who died at the county jail after being strapped in a restraint chair for more than 36 hours. Walter concluded that Holland died from a 5-cenimeter-long blood clot that moved from his leg to his lung after he was released from the restraints.
The county coroner then ruled Holland’s death as natural.