Coming From Family Member of Wrongful Death Settlment
Much has been written about the July 8, 2009 alleged “public intoxication” arrest, and the July 12, 2009 discovered body of Jeremy Lum. Never until today, has it been publicly released that an independent autopsy revealed internal organs were missing from Jeremy Lum’s cadaver.
Jeremy Lum was a 29 year old that was booked by San Joaquin County Deputies on July 9, 2009 for public intoxication and then released several hours later. He was found 7/12/2009 in the San Joaquin River, approximately 100 yards south of 9386 South Roberts Road.
Jeremy was described as an excellent athlete, UC Berkeley graduate, and a nursing student. Jeremy also had been recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
At the time of his disappearance, the family questioned whether Jeremy was “drunk” or not, and wondered why someone in Jeremy’s mental condition was released with or without shoes and no successful family notification; two of many issues that the Sheriff’s Office partially disputes.
Throughout the years, the Lum family has tried to always remain respectful while constructively being critical of the San Joaquin County’s Sheriff handling of people with bipolar disorders and other mental illnesses. Someone close to the Lum Family who asked to remain anonymous said the family’s goal has always been to educate, as opposed to just pointing fingers.
In January of 2016, the county conceded to a $1.575 million wrongful-death settlement, believed to be the county’s biggest ever. In the county’s typical “Circle the Wagons” fashion, there was no comment by any of the board members. County counsel later issued a statement denying any wrongdoing on the part of the county. County Counsel’s J. Mark Myles, who didn’t actually work on the case, callously explained that the decision to settle was purely a fiscal decision.
A review of the facts by 209 Times now reveals that the Lum family, who are known in Lathrop for being quietly philanthropic, appeared to have been rather easy on the county.
A review of depositions from the civil case revealed numerous “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember” to a multitude of obviously basic questions. At one point the Lum Family Attorney asked a San Joaquin County Correctional Officer “You would not have written anything that is false would you?”
The officer’s answer: “Um, I don’t know. I don’t remember.”
Video tapes conclusively revealed this same correctional officer did in fact write false entries in an inmate observation log. The Sheriff’s alleged timelines and observation logs simply could not be reconciled with known facts. At least two nurses also made statements that could not be reconciled with known facts.
Sheriff Moore’s alleged interference in a conversation between Jeremy Lum’s father and Dr. Omalu was regarding a medical question that would fall under the legal term “cause of death” is of grave concern.
Due to 209 Times’ extensive network, we have been able to secure a copy of Jeremy Lum’s coroner’s report (2009-1325) and Dr Omalu’s autopsy report (A09-1325). This first autopsy was performed on July 13, 2009.
On page 10 of 14, Dr Omalu writes that “the spleen weighs 160 grams and is friable”. A toxicology report conducted by Central Valley Toxicology is included in the report.
Dr Omalu concludes that Jeremy Lum died as result of asphyxiation due to drowning due to Acute Combined Amphetamine and Orphenadrine Toxicity.
We also obtained a copy of a second autopsy that was performed by Dr. David M. Posey, (totally independent of Sheriff Steve Moore’s hierarchical structure) on July 16, 2009 at PL Frye and Sons Funeral Home in Manteca. This autopsy was ordered by the decedent’s father.
During this second independent autopsy, it was noted “the organs of the body cavities have been previously removed and are found in a plastic bag in the torso.” It should be noted this a normal and accepted practice.
According to Dr. Posey’s autopsy, the following organs, including the spleen, were “not found”:
No second toxicology analysis was ordered as “no specimens taken because there are no remaining body or cavity fluids.”
Dr. Posey concluded under “CAUSE OF DEATH” that “based on these autopsy findings and the limited historical and clinical information available to me, in my opinion, Jeremy James Gong Lum, a 29 year old gentleman, died as a result of an acute psychotic episode (bipolar breakdown) complicated by methylenedioxymethamphetamine intoxication and asphyxia due to fresh water drowning.” Dr. Posey concluded the “MANNER OF DEATH” was undetermined.
No one on the 209 Times editorial board, including yours truly, has the expertise to fully comprehend autopsy reports. We therefore withhold judgment about the significance of any differences between Dr Omalu’s autopsy and Dr. Posey’s.
In speaking with a pathologist off the record, we learned that sometimes internal organs are thrown away during an autopsy procedure, and that generally speaking this action in and of itself does not necessarily constitute a cover-up. That said, some of the body parts missing in this autopsy is disconcerting to the experts we spoken with. One Bay Area pathologist we spoke to off the record agreed it is unfortunate that Sheriff Moore choose to prevent Dr. Omalu from answering a family member’s medical question. “This kind of unprofessional behavior can create reasonable doubt and suspicion in the minds of grieving family members.”
Based on Sheriff Moore’s long track record of highly questionable and sometimes verifiably criminal behavior such as in GunGate, 209 Times’ editorial team fully stands by Justice for Jeremy’s suggestion that the Sheriff’s Office and Coroner’s Office be totally separated.
Dr. Omalu is now publicly alleging that Sheriff Moore “was using his political office to protect police officers whenever somebody died in custody or during arrest”. The world famous Dr. Omalu and Dr. Parson offer numerous detailed examples that support this bombastic claim.
It is a fact that Jeremy Lum died shortly after being released from the San Joaquin County jail’s custody. As to what else is factual may prove impossible for this loving and still grieving family to ever know.
Since this story was originally submitted to 209 Times for publication, both Dr. Omalu and Dr. Parson have reported in documents (totally unrelated to the Lum case) that sheriff staff have been known for cutting body parts off (specifically hands) of cadavers without a medical doctor’s consent or even basic documentation. They have further alleged malfeasance on part of the Sheriff in at least two drowning deaths, again, neither of which appear to have anything to do with the Lum case.
Letter from Jeremy’s aunt:
Mr. Frank Gayaldo,
The recent allegations against Sheriff Steve Moore being made by Forensic Pathologst Dr. Sue Parson are of particular interest to me. Her allegations that Sheriff Steve Moore inappropriately interfered with hers & Dr. Omalu’s cases does not come as a surprise. I know of Dr. Omalu and his work and hold him in high regard. However, in 2009, when my nephew’s, Jeremy Lum, body arrived at the funeral home missing body parts and bodily fluids, it was alarming. This undoubtedly impacted the ability to perform a full and complete autopsy by our own hired Forensic Pathologist. I am also not surprised to see that this has been a pattern of behavior in other missing persons cases for the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Dept/Coroner’s Office.
It has taken many years to come to terms with the shoddy and inhumane treatment our family received from the SJC Sheriff’s Dept when Jeremy went missing. We weren’t asking for anything more from Lathrop Police Services, aka San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Dept, than any other family with a missing loved one. What I’ve come to learn and realize is that there exists a hierarchy/chain of command within this agency and I can only surmise that Sheriff Steve Moore gave the command to Lathrop Police Services personnel to turn a blind eye and deaf ear to our family’s pleas for help..They even discouraged local television media from airing our story during the time Jeremy was missing by not giving confirmation. (Once Jeremy’s body was discovered and recovered from the river, TV crews arrived on their own, of course) .
In following the news of Dr. Parson’s allegations and subsequent resignation, I learned of the fiscal reasons that the Coroner’s Office & Sheriff’s Dept are one entity. It puzzles me, though, that a Sheriff who has no medical experience or degree would be able to influence the work performed by a Forensic Pathologist doctor. To the extent that in an interview with Dr. Omalu, Sheriff Moore was able to direct the line of questioning as to what questions he could address. When Jerry, Jeremy’s father, asked a question of Dr. Omalu, Sheriff Moore did not allow Dr. Omalu to address it. Jerry was never able to get an answer to his question at this meeting.
As painful as it’s been to discuss Jeremy’s death again, I have hopes that other families going through this will find some comfort in knowing they aren’t alone. It’s hard to find closure in the loss of a loved one but even more so when there are questions, purposely or not, left answered.
I’m not comfortable to communicate with San Joaquin County or the media at this time, however, if you feel this email serves a purpose being publicly shared, you have my permission to do so.
Justice For Jeremy