TACOMA, Wash. - Pierce County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Clark now faces three separate complaints filed by high-ranking current and former employees. In an interview with KIRO 7, one former Associate Medical Examiner said Clark should be removed from his post.
“If the county is going to regain confidence in its medical examiner, Dr. Clark needs to go,” said forensic pathologist Dr. J. Matthew Lacy. Lacy worked as an associate medical examiner in Pierce County from 2012 to 2017, saying he left the job because of Clark.
“It was the worst professional experience of my life,” Lacy said. “I told Dr. Clark that, I told the county that in 2016 and when nothing changed, I left in 2017.”
Lacy is one of two former associate medical examiners who worked under Clark who have now filed complaints against him with the Washington Medical Commission. He agreed to talk with KIRO 7 after seeing stories about ongoing complaints by employees and families who question Clark's conclusions about the causes of death in several cases.
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“The medical examiner must be objective, must be honest and must be professional at all times,” said Lacy. “And that office is no longer fulfilling any of those categories.”
Clark also faces a whistleblower complaint from a third associate medical examiner, Dr. Megan Quinn. After she filed that complaint, Quinn was placed on administrative leave and accused of insubordination and an unspecified ethics violation. An attorney representing Quinn said so far, no specific allegations have been presented to her.
Lacy, who now works at the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office, says in his time in the Pierce County ME's office, says he saw Clark target county employees, saying he would get them fired. Lacy said even after he left for another job in another county, he was concerned Clark could hurt his career.
“One of the reasons that I have been reticent to come forward is because I’m still afraid, even though I don’t work for Pierce County, that he will try to do something to get back at me,” Lacy said.
An attorney representing Clark did not return a request for comment on Lacy’s allegations or the complaints filed with the state medical commission.
In an email statement, Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier said: “While we can’t comment on the specifics of a complaint we haven’t seen, we appreciate and welcome the involvement of other professionals who can assist us in confirming or refuting the various allegations made. We are committed to a thorough and fair investigation that serves the interests and needs of the people of Pierce County.”
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