By Ken Crane, President, Phoenix Law Enforcement Association
American Police Beat was a great help to us a while back bringing the issues of PTSD and its impact on law enforcement to the front burner when it published the tragic story of Phoenix Police Officer Craig Tiger and former Phoenix Police Chief Danny Garcia, who terminated Officer Tiger over a DUI driven by his PTSD issues.
The termination was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Officer Tiger, and it pushed him to the brink, resulting in his suicide. We are proud to announce that our attorneys won a significant victory in securing accidental disability benefits from the pension system that will allow his family to receive much-needed financial benefits.
Although it was quite the uphill battle, it was a fight worth taking on, and we are proud we were successful.
The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association posted an article about the case on its website yesterday. Here it is, in full:
On Wednesday, April 13, 2016, the Phoenix Police Pension Board approved disability benefits for the family of Phoenix Police Officer Craig Tiger, who tragically took his life in 2014 a year after he was terminated by former chief Daniel V. Garcia following a DUI arrest.
The arrest occurred on the one-year anniversary of Officer Tiger’s involvement in an on-duty shooting, in which he used lethal force to stop a subject threatening citizens at a public pool as well as Officer Tiger and his partner, with a baseball bat.
Officer Tiger was en-route to his family cabin in northern Arizona where he planned to take his life.
The DUI arrest saved his life. Shortly after, he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, and began receiving treatment.
Instead of going through the normal discipline process, Chief Garcia ordered a Loudermill hearing for Officer Tiger. During the hearing, Officer Tiger, who had an unblemished 12-year service record with no prior discipline, poured his heart out to the Chief in an attempt to explain what he had been going through. Craig and his PLEA Rep, then PLEA President Joe Clure, implored the Chief not to fire him. Both of them further explained Officer Tiger’s formal PTSD diagnosis and the fact he needed help. Despite medical evidence of PTSD diagnosis and Officer Tiger’s heart wrenching story, Chief Garcia terminated him. Officer Tiger took his life a little over a year later.
The disability benefits were granted to Officer Tiger’s children after PLEA attorneys Mike Napier and Cassidy Bacon successfully argued before the Pension Board that Officer Tiger’s PTSD was a cause of his termination. The Pension Board requested and received a report from an independent medical examiner, who concluded that Officer Tiger met the requirements for an accidental disability pension.
PLEA would like to acknowledge the effort that immediate past President Joe Clure, Cassidy Bacon, and Mike Napier put into this case from the beginning, and we would also like to acknowledge CBS 5 News reporter Donna Rossi for her work in keeping ahead of the issue of PTSD on behalf of all police officers who may have to deal with its effects at some point in their careers.
PLEA would also like to acknowledge the Phoenix Pension Board for its decision in this case.
Because of Officer Tiger’s case, the Phoenix Police Department has changed the way it handles officers involved in critical incidents, including a revamp of the Employee Assistance Unit and future hiring of an in-house psychologist.
CLICK HERE for Donna Rossi’s story on Officer Tiger’s termination.
CLICK HERE for Donna Rossi’s story on the Pension Board’s decision.
CLICK HERE for an Arizona Central story on the Pension Board’s decision.