Around 150 Minneapolis police officers have filed for disability and, in some cases, leave from work, after reportedly suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, while responding to calls in the days following George Floyd’s death, and helping to control riots that destroyed hundreds of buildings in the city.
Fox 9 Minneapolis reports that the officers are seeking “duty disability” for mental anguish suffered during the riots.
“At least 150 Minneapolis Police Officers have begun the process of seeking ‘duty disability’ for post-traumatic stress under the Minnesota Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA), said an attorney representing the officers,” the outlet noted. “The attorney, Ron Meuser, who handles most disability claims for the Minneapolis Police Federation, told the FOX 9 Investigators 75 of those officers are under doctors’ orders not to return to work as they undergo treatment for symptoms consistent with PTSD.”
Floyd died while in the custody of Minneapolis police, and after an officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, ultimately suffocating Floyd. The four officers involved in the incident were at first fired and then charged with Floyd’s death. The officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck has been charged with second-degree murder.
Floyd’s death set off a national anti-police brutality movement and, in many cities including Minneapolis, professional rabble-rousers used the massive demonstrations as cover to incite violence, spurring riots that left many cities struggling with widespread unrest and, in the aftermath, hundreds of destroyed businesses.
Minneapolis police have found themselves under siege in the aftermath. The Minneapolis City Council, largely stacked with Democrats, has been aggressive in stripping funding from the police department, with one member even going so far as to suggest that individuals were “privileged” if, without police protection, they found themselves the victims of violence or property damage.
The result, the officers’ lawyer, Meuser, says, is a struggling police department and a situation that has “pushed many officers to their breaking point.”
“I’m seeing PTSD symptoms of officers with highly diminished capacity to live and socialize, extraordinary rates of divorce, and alcohol dependency – just to cope. It is an emotional crisis that cannot and should not continue,” the attorney said in a statement.
Meuser cited a number of shocking incidents that took place during the riots, including when the city’s mayor ordered police to abandon the Third Precinct, which was later torched by rioters. Officers there, he said, narrowly escaped with their lives.
“The Third Precinct was abandoned as rioters closed in on the building during a chaotic night of unrest that ended with the police station set ablaze. He said some officers wrote text messages to their loved ones over fear they wouldn’t make it out the station alive,” Fox News reports. “Others counted their ammunition in case they needed to shoot themselves, rather than be beaten to death, he said.”
The city’s Democratic mayor, who has been accused of deliberately failing to control the unrest, says the city does not have the resources to handle officer claims.
“In the meantime, I am committed to supporting those officers committed to carrying out their oath to serve and protect the people of Minneapolis during a challenging time for our city,” he said.