At least 150 Minneapolis police officers have started the process of applying for disability payments, saying they’re suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the wake of the George Floyd protests, KMSP-TV reported. Of those officers, 75 of them are under doctors’ orders not to return to work due to PTSD.
Of the 150 officers, 50 of them were working in the Third Precinct on the night of May 28, 2020. On that night, as violent protests were raging across the city following the death of Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody, protesters laid siege to the precinct’s station and set it on fire.
“They did not feel they were going to come home,” said Ron Meuser, the officers’ attorney who handles most disability claims for the Minneapolis Police Federation. Some, he said, were texting their families goodbye. Others were saving the last bullet for themselves, preferring suicide to the possibility of being beaten to death by protesters.
What’s more, Meuser said that, since the Floyd protests, officers have felt “abandoned” by the community and politicians.
However, Meuser noted that it wasn’t the George Floyd protests themselves that caused his clients to file for disability. He said that his clients, some of whom have been on the force for 20 or more years, have been dealing with these symptoms for decades.
“It’s an emotional beatdown on a daily basis for these guys,” he said.
Meuser also rejected the notion that the officers are simply retaliating against their employer by trying to falsely claim benefits.
“I’ve looked them in the eyes, not one of them is attempting to get out of working. Every one of them, to a man and woman, said, ‘I never thought I would be leaving this way,'” he said.
If an officer’s claim for disability payments is approved, he or she would get 60 percent of their average salary paid to them over the next 20 years. If they file for workers’ compensation, the remainder of their former salary would be made up for from that fund.
Minneapolis City Councilwoman Linea Palmisano said that this would be enormously expensive for the city, noting that the city would have dozens of people on its payroll who aren’t working.
Palmisano, who believes the officers’ claims are legitimate, suggests that rather than giving them disability duty payments, they should get treatment and then be put back to work. She suggests “resiliency training” that would teach other officers to recognize and cope with the signs of PTSD.
“With appropriate treatment [these officers] could have recovered and been a meaningful contributor to our city,” she said.