DNA Transfer by EMS Personnel Leads to Wrongful Arrest

An innocent man sat in a Southern California jail for five months because EMS personnel who transported him to the hospital inadvertently deposited his DNA at a murder scene they later responded to.

The unbelievable story of the arrest and incarceration of 26-year-old Lukis Anderson for the murder of millionaire Raveesh Kumra, is troubling given our assumptions that DNA evidence is virtually iron-clad.

How a Rural Metro ambulance crew was able to transfer one patient’s DNA to another scene is just as troubling on a number of very practical levels: evidence-wise, infection control-wise, and occupational safety-wise.


About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
  • Dalmatian90


    I know for ~15 years here the state fire investigators have tried to train FDs to have non-interior personnel such as pump operators to refuel equipment like chainsaws and generators, to minimize contamination from splashes onto bunker gear.  

    Arson dogs would then pickup the cross-contamination and the investigators would spend time explaining additional samples away.

    • Excellent point Dalmation90!!!!

      I am surprised more defense attorneys do not raise it – but most have no idea about what goes on at a fire scene.


    How many times have you stepped in blood and didn't realize it. How many times has this blood been transferred to another scene without you realizing it. How many times has a hair strand from one patient stuck to the stretcher or your pants leg and then fell off at another patients home. We clean our equipment after each call, but sometimes you miss something. We do not work in a sterile environment. 

    • RStark

      I know – but when you think about the overwhelming credibility and faith we put in DNA evidence – and yet how easy it can be to inadvertantly contaminate a scene it is pretty unsettling.

      The poor guy sat in jail for 5 months…

  • Jim

    This really brings home the point of thourghly cleaning your equiptment and yourselves after ever run. It is scary enough to think that they were able to transfer enough of a tissue sample to this other scene to be discovered by the lab and put this poor guy in jail, just think where else it could have been deposited, at the crews home around their family, a chronically ill patients home, their station, it goes on and on. Thanks for the story Curt!


Check Also

Did Bonuses to Utility Company Executives Lead to Major California Wildland Fire

NBC Bay Area just completed an extensive investigative reporting piece that poses a very troubling question: Did the prospect of bonuses tempt Pacific Gas & Electric Company executives to cut corners that caused the Butte fire in September, 2015 that burned over 70,000 acres, destroyed over 500 homes, and killed two people?

Austin Fire Lieutenant Accused of Secret Recording of Women In Firehouse Locker Room

A lieutenant with the Austin Fire Department is being investigated for placing hidden recording equipment in a women's locker room at a city firehouse. Neither the officer nor the station have been identified but the department has confirmed he has retired.