Embattled former SLO County examiner gets a break

March 10, 2018

Gary Walter

The former San Luis Obispo County medical examiner, who came under scrutiny for misbehavior and questionable rulings on causes of death, can keep practicing medicine, despite having a DUI conviction.

On Wednesday, the California Medical Board adopted a decision to revoke the license of Gary Walter, but to stay the revocation and place Walter on probation for three years. The terms of Walter’s medical probation require that he abstain completely from consuming alcohol, complete an ethics course, go to therapy and undergo regular medical evaluations. Walter is also prohibited from supervising physician assistants.

In 2016, Walter was convicted of DUI and sentenced to two days in jail and three years probation. The conviction stemmed from a hit-and-run Walter committed in San Luis Obispo while on his way to perform an autopsy. At the time, he reportedly had a blood alcohol concentration of .19.

While the discipline from state medical board pertained to Walter’s DUI case, the medical examiner faced public scrutiny for multiple cause of death rulings. In early 2017, Walter ruled the SLO County Jail death of Andrew Holland was natural, even though deputies strapped him in a restraint chair for 36 hours before he died.

Also in 2017, multiple medical experts rejected Walter’s finding that a young Ventura woman died because of an LSD overdose at a music festival. Additionally, Walter was named in a wrongful death lawsuit over a man who died in Lemoore police custody.

The state medical board’s decision to place Walter on probation will take effect on April 6.


A couple of things:

1. Andrew Holland’s death classification could have been a matter of semantics. I don’t know the laws regarding death classification. Technically the man died of a pulmonary embolism, which is considered a natural death. Did the medical examiner have all the back story before making his determination? I mean, if all the guy had was the body, all he would have seen might have just been clots in Andrew’s lungs. Just a thought.

2. If a dude died while in custody, was this medical examiner the jail doctor? There isn’t enough information to know what happened. I have seen people overdose and die or die from no fault of the jail staff, but then EVERYONE gets named in a lawsuit anyway.

3. A woman allegedly dies from an LSD overdose, so say the medical examiner. Who are the “multiple medical experts”? Are they hired “experts” from a family suing?

The problem is that because this medical examiner is a drunkard, his professional reputation is now tarnished. How can anyone take him seriously? Was he sauced/high/etc during this time? If he WAS, then every single exam he did of dead or living patients SHOULD be scrutinized. Doctors are just people, and liquored up people probably shouldn’t be making life and death decisions on other people. Just sayin’.


Anybody really surprised, we AL know there are two sets of rules, one set for the protected class and one for lower class. If Walter”s was in the private sector he would have been fired long ago.