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California workers' compensation fraud? Ex-cop requests benefits

California readers likely remember the police officer who pepper sprayed several UC-Davis students during a protest in 2011, igniting a firestorm of controversy and national news coverage. That officer, who was terminated from his job eight months later, is now seeking workers' compensation for what he claims is psychiatric injury he suffered as a result of the public backlash. Some may consider this a legal gray area, but others consider it to be workers' compensation fraud.

The officer claims that his psychiatric injury was triggered mainly by hackers who posted his personal information online during the public outcry. As a result of his information being publicly accessible, he began receiving threats. An investigation into the pepper spraying incident led to the officer's termination in July 2012. The team looking into the incident determined that the officer's response to the student protest was unwarranted.

A settlement hearing has been scheduled in this case, and a demonstration has already been organized. Protesters hope to convince the panel to turn down the workers' compensation claim because they believe that he should not receive benefits for any mental turmoil he suffered as a result of his own actions. The case may go to trial if a settlement cannot be reached.

Despite the assertion by some that this is workers' compensation fraud, the former police officer's claim is proceeding through the proper legal channels. Only time will tell if the outcome favors him or his employer. It may be difficult for him to prove his psychiatric injury, but he could be awarded California workers' compensation benefits such as disability payments and lifetime medical treatment if he is successful. Additionally, this case could set a precedent for future workers' compensation cases.


Source:, “UC Davis pepper-spray cop wants worker’s comp,” Nannette Miranda, July 26, 2013

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