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.