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The family of a New York police officer who took her own life are not eligible for survivor benefits because it remains unproven that the officer’s suicide was related to a mental injury caused by work, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York ruled Thursday.
The Village of Freeport police officer was classified as on duty in December 2017 when she was found dead in her parked police car in Freeport, New York, from a gunshot wound to the head, according to documents in 2019 NY Slip Op 06832, filed in the court’s Third Department in Albany.
Two months later, her husband filed for workers compensation death benefits alleging that his late wife was involved in “a line-of-duty death,” according to documents chronicling a case that went before a workers compensation law judge, who found that officer’s death was related to her job and awarded benefits, and the state Workers' Compensation Board, which reversed the ruling, “finding that the cause of decedent's death was suicide from a self-inflicted gunshot wound and that there was no evidence that her suicide resulted from insanity, brain derangement or a pattern of mental deterioration caused by a work-related injury.”
In affirming the board’s decision, three judges with the appellate division listed in their ruling other factors that may have contributed to her suicide, including that she had been in marital counseling and that she experienced stress and depression during the holiday season.
Officials for the Village of Freeport and the attorneys involved could not immediately be reached for comment.
A federal appeals court ruled a man who shot himself due to anguish over injuries suffered on the job is entitled to compensation for the injuries he sustained during his suicide attempt.