The San Joaquin County sheriff-coroner, who was accused last year of meddling in death investigations, fell short in his bid for re-election.
Three-term incumbent Sheriff Steve Moore trailed his opponent Pat Withrow by 17 points Wednesday, with 100 percent of precinct votes reported.
Moore conceded defeat Wednesday morning in a phone call to Withrow, congratulating him on his win even as the county registrar was still tallying 50,000 vote-by-mail and provisional ballots.
Moore lost support after two forensic pathologists in the coroner's office alleged that the sheriff interfered with autopsy findings and used his political office to shield officers who killed civilians. The allegations were first reported by KQED.
Dr. Bennet Omalu, a nationally renowned forensic pathologist famous for his discovery of a concussion-related disease in football players, worked for the sheriff for a decade.
Shortly after his colleague Dr. Susan Parson quit in November, Omalu tendered his own resignation. Together the doctors submitted over 100 pages of documentation to county officials that they said showed Moore had repeatedly violated medical and ethical standards in his role as coroner.
Moore denied he did anything wrong, a claim backed up by a county audit that concluded he broke no laws.
However, the audit also identified so many problems with the way Moore ran death investigations that supervisors voted unanimously in April to strip the sheriff of his coroner duties and establish an independent medical examiner to investigate deaths, independent of law enforcement.
Withrow, who served as the deputy sheriff of San Joaquin County for nearly three decades, quit to run against Moore in 2014. Moore beat Withrow that year, drawing on strong support from county ranchers and farmers.
Despite the allegations against him, Moore became president of the influential California State Sheriffs' Association in April, a title he will have to forfeit when Withrow takes office next year.
As of 2 a.m. Wednesday, Withrow had won 58 percent of the vote, with Moore taking 41 percent.