HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- The doctor who was accused of stealing nine doses of the COVID-19 vaccine said he's relieved after a grand jury declined to indict him on Wednesday.
The decision comes after two days of testimony in the case of Dr. Hasan Gokal, who was a Harris County Public Health worker, and months after a judge dismissed the case due to a lack of probable cause.
"I'm still processing it to be honest," said Gokal. "It's a relief of the uncertainty that's followed for the last six months."
Authorities accused Gokal of stealing the doses to give to family and friends, but Gokal's attorney, Paul Doyle, said the doses would have been thrown out if he had not intervened.
"We appreciate the Grand Jury finally ending the prolonged, unwarranted attempt by District Attorney Kim Ogg and her office to disparage Dr. Gokal's good name," Doyle said in a statement released Wednesday. "We fully expected this outcome."
Gokal was accused of taking a vial that contained nine doses while working at the county vaccination site at Lyndsay Lyons Park on Dec. 29.
A week later, Gokal told a fellow Harris County Public Health employee, who then reported him to supervisors. Mishandling a vaccine can result in a loss of government funding to the county, according to Harris County Public Health officials, who first investigated the matter resulting in Gokal's termination.
Gokal had been one of the faces of Harris County Public Health during the pandemic, featured in videos and on town hall panels.
"No doctor should ever feel forced to choose between saving lives and keeping their job," Doyle said. "After all that Dr. Gokal and his family endured, an apology by the Harris County Public Health and the Harris County District Attorney's office is not enough."
In addition to the charges being dropped earlier this year, the Texas Medical Board had also dismissed its investigation in March in connection with the case, saying in a statement that Gokal, "appeared to have administered doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to patients that were properly consented, in the eligible patient category, and they were given doses that would have otherwise been wasted."
In its decision, the medical board acknowledged "there were no established/written waste protocols or waiting list on December 29, 2020" for Gokal to follow.
Doyle said earlier this year a wrongful termination lawsuit was in the works.
The Harris County District Attorney's office issued the following statement:
"A grand jury today declined to indict Dr. Hasan Gokal. Grand jurors were asked to determine whether a criminal charge was warranted in his case, after a magistrate and a misdemeanor judge disagreed in their rulings on probable cause. Public Corruption Division prosecutors presented all the evidence to the grand jury, which is comprised of members of the community. We respect the decision of the grand jury in this and every case. Evidence, not public opinion, is the guiding principle of our work."