A grand jury has decided not to indict a former Harris County Public Health doctor, who accused of stealing at least nine doses of COVID-19 vaccine, the district attorney’s office said on Wednesday.
“That was a lot of relief,” said Dr. Hasan Gokal. “It’s been six months of uncertainty, of day-by-day not knowing what’s going to happen next.”
The doctor has defended his actions saying he took the doses from an open vial at a vaccine site in December so they wouldn’t expire and go to waste.
“We closed up the event at 7 p.m. and there were no other takers,” Gokal said.
While the district attorney said in January the doctor abused his position to place friends and family in line in front of others, Gokal said he didn’t closely know any of the recipients except for his wife who got the last dose when someone else didn’t show.
“We had only six hours,” Gokal said. “That’s the time in which, after you puncture a vial, that’s the amount of time in which you have to use them up or you throw them out.”
Gokal was fired from his job at Harris County Public Health and was previously charged with theft, though a judge later found no probable cause. Prosecutors then took the case to a grand jury.
“We respect the decision of the grand jury in this and every case. Evidence, not public opinion, is the guiding principle of our work,” said the district attorney’s office in a statement.
Harris County Public Health said it can’t comment on the case and directed questions to the DA’s office.
Gokal said the events over the last roughly six months have taken a toll on him and his family. He said it doesn’t make sense for him to return to his old job but he would like to work in the field of public health again.