The initial reports around public defender Jeff Adachi’s death are cast in an even fishier light, as Adachi’s family and office colleagues push back against what they see as a Medical Examiner’s office coverup.
The sudden and shocking Feb. 22 death of public defender Jeff Adachi became even more shocking when bizarrely personal and unflattering details were leaked to the media immediately after his passing, and a month later when the Medical Examiner ruled that Adachi had died from a mixture of cocaine and alcohol. His understandably furious family has disputed these details all along, and now they’ve got three independent experts casting serious doubt on the Medical Examiner’s findings. (Of course, these “independent” experts were hired by the Adachi family.) But ABC 7 reports that according to these examiners and toxicologists, Adachi died of natural causes and his drug and alcohol levels were “too low to even be quantified."
Outside cardiovascular pathologist Dr. Dylan V. Miller, explained the natural causes, saying Adachi's left artery was "80 percent" clogged, his right artery "50 percent" blocked and that Adachi had an "abnormally enlarged heart."
“These results do not appear to support the stated cause of death,” said another outside consultant, forensic science consultant Jim Norris, according to the Examiner. “It appears that ethanol level should have been reported as negative and no cocaine… was found in the Peripheral blood sample.”
Another doctor who formerly worked in the Medical Examiner’s Office backed up the natural causes assessment in his own report. “The complete lack of any toxicologically-significant analytical findings in the Peripheral Blood of Mr. Jeffrey Adachi as summarized in the SF OCME’s Toxicology Report do not, in my opinion, support the notion of an acute mixed ethanol-cocaine death,” said Dr. Nikolas Lemos.
As Mission Local points out, Lemos has his own history as a whistleblower in the Medical Examiner’s office. In his time at the Medical Examiner’s Office, Lemos had charged that a colleague performing DUI tests was not certified to do so. He says he “grudgingly resigned” as a result, and the Bay Area Reporter notes that the city awarded Lemos a settlement for wrongful termination.
It was Adachi himself who escalated the issue, and brought some embarrassment on the medical examiner. The Public Defender’s Office told KGO it was those same medical examiner personal visiting Adachi’s home the night of his death was “outside of protocol” and “very concerning."
Maybe it is unusual for a medical examiner to visit the home of a deceased person's family. It’s also unusual for the Public Defender’s Office to put out a press release disputing their deceased boss’s autopsy. But when an elected official dies with cocaine in his system, even if just a trace amount, it’s already an off-the-rails unusual case.
Image: JD Lasica via Flickr