A former staffer at the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office says he was fired after refusing to omit all the cocaine business out of Public Defender Jeff Adachi’s autopsy. Today he was awarded a $436,000 settlement.
There were highly unusual circumstances galore in the sudden 2019 death of SF Public Defender Jeff Adachi: the leaking of unflattering details involving cocaine, cannabis gummies, and what we in the press delicately called “a woman who was not his wife.” These details allegedly were being shopped around to the media for $2,500, and the sledgehammer SFPD raid on the home of the journalist who received that leaked information also garnered headlines for months.
Another unusual circumstance popped up five months later, when a former deputy director at the Medical Examiner’s Office Christopher Wirowek sued the city saying he was fired for not omitting the cocaine details from Adachi’s autopsy. This has since become all the more unusual due to the fact that former City Administrator Naomi Kelly, whom Wiworek says tried to strong-arm him into altering the autopsy report, has since quit her job after her husband was charged with fraud in the Mohammed Nuru scandal, prompting an FBI raid that also turned up a little cocaine.
The Adachi autopsy scandal finally, seemingly came to a conclusion Tuesday. At today’s San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting, the supervisors unanimously approved a $436,000 settlement payment to Wirowek for employment retaliation. NBC Bay Area had reported on the settlement agreement in March.
The full lawsuit is available online, through Wirowek gives his own short version in the Facebook video above from his attorney's office. “I thought I was doing the right thing, but instead I was fired,” Wirowek says. “The manner of death was not a natural death, but due to circumstances that involved illicit substances. [Naomi Kelly] wanted to review the entire investigative autopsy report. She went line by line, and it was — there were some changes that she suggested. I said ‘No, this is how it’s written, there’s no need to change it. This is fact, this is the truth.’”
He also adds something about a paternity leave situation, leave he was on when fired. “When I informed Ms. Kelly that I was planning on returning the following morning from paternity leave, I didn’t get a response,” Wiworek adds. “Instead I got a letter from HR informing me that there’s no need for you to come back.”
He concludes, “I was fired because I told Ms. Kelly no, that I wouldn’t falsify Mr. Adachi’s autopsy report. Ms. Kelly fired me for not falsifying a public document.”
Kelly did not give comment when contacted by NBC Bay Area, and apparently she’s left San Francisco. She has not been charged in the Nuru affair, though one could argue she certainly benefited from a $1.3 million loan that involved bank fraud maneuvered by her husband, former SFPUC director Harlan Kelly, and local real estate magnate Victor Makras.
The SF City Attorney’s office called Wiworek’s allegations “complete fiction” in earlier legal filings. But a spokesperson told NBC Bay Area in March that the $460k was “an appropriate resolution given the inherent costs of continued litigation,” which sounds like they’re cutting their losses, and likely not admitting any guilt.
All previous SFist Jeff Adachi coverage here