Senate Bill 168 by State Senator Andrew McDonald would authorize workers’ compensation coverage for both physical and mental injuries, according to a McDonald Web site announcement. McDonald said he filed the measure at the request of the Stamford Police Association, which said Stamford Officer Frank Chiafari has been unable to collect workers’ compensation benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder. State law currently allows such benefits only if officers are injured while using deadly force against a person.
The 200-pound chimpanzee named Travis went berserk February 16, 2009, after its owner asked a friend, Charla Nash, to help lure the animal back into her house. The animal ripped off Nash’s hands, nose, lips, and eyelids during the attack.
Stamford police said the animal moved as though he was going to attack Chiafari, who was still in his police cruiser, prompting Chiafari to shoot the animal in the chest at close range. Police officials said Chiafari has suffered anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, and mood swings, but is now back on duty.
“The physical and emotional injuries that can be sustained by an officer in such a violent and dangerous situation are very real,” McDonald said, in the announcement. “It shouldn’t matter if the perpetrator is a 200-pound man, a 200-pound chimpanzee, or a 100-pound Rottweiler. If a police officer is compelled to use deadly force to protect himself from imminent harm or death, any injuries he sustains should be covered by our workers’ compensation laws.”
The attorney representing chimp owner Sandra Herold has argued that that the proper way to deal with damages from the incident, including Nash’s care, is through the workers’ compensation system (see Was Chimp Attack a Workplace Incident?).