New York City’s chief medical examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson, who oversaw the autopsy of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein after his reported suicide, has resigned for a job in the private sector after nine years in office.
Sampson announced her impending resignation in an interview with ABC News on Monday, as opening arguments began in the trial of Epstein’s associate Ghislaine Maxwell. After 23 years with the city’s medical examiner office, she is taking a job with the Mount Sinai Health System.
“I was clearly a role model for so many women who are interested in careers in medicine, in science, and in government. I found that now looking back extremely rewarding,” she told the outlet.
The first woman to serve as New York City’s ME, Sampson oversaw multiple high-profile autopsies. In August 2014, her office ruled that Eric Garner – a black man who died during an attempted arrest in Staten Island – died of homicide caused by “compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest, and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.”
When the police union pointed out that the hyoid bone in Garner’s throat hadn’t been fractured, Sampson responded it was “false” that this would have necessarily happened due to a chokehold.
The officer involved was eventually fired, but was not criminally charged. Garner’s family received a $5.9 million settlement from the city.
Five years later, in 2019, Sampson would rule Epstein’s death in the Manhattan jail to be suicide. The disgraced financier had been awaiting trial on more sex trafficking charges. He allegedly used a sheet in his cell to hang himself. A Justice Department investigation found that the guards did not do any of their rounds that night, while video cameras at the facility malfunctioned.
The autopsy revealed Epstein’s hyoid bone had been broken, which is possible in cases of suicide by hanging, but also happens in cases of strangulation.