ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Police officers are told that if they get hurt on the job, they’ll be taken care of.
Nearly three years after Albuquerque Police Officer Lou Golson was shot multiple times by a suspected drunk driver during a traffic stop, he says that’s far from the truth.
“You would think the nightmare was getting shot. The actual nightmare was surviving. The total that it’s taken financially… is unreal,” Golson said.
Golson says since that night in January 2015, which was captured on his own lapel camera, the City of Albuquerque and workman’s comp has fought his requests for medical attention tooth and nail.
“I just could not fathom that I would be treated so poorly. Throughout our careers, we are taught, if you get hurt on the job, you’ll be taken care of. That is not the case,” he said.
He calls it a three-year battle of trying to get the city to pay for the care he needs to recover and live a healthy life.
Golson even wanted to go back to full duty after the incident and continue busting drunk drivers, but he never got the chance due to push back from the city and workman’s comp.
“Apparently it was not in the cards, because for five months when my initial medical starting becoming delayed or denied, there were things that could have been fixed that no longer can be fixed,” Golson explained.
He was forced to retire.
Golson guesses he’s paid $10,000 in medical bills out of pocket for things like an ER visit and physical therapy, because he didn’t even want to fight with the city on it.
On Wednesday, Golson, the city, and a mediator met to determine how much workman’s comp he will receive over the rest of his lifetime. Golson was looking for a lump sum, so that he could finally control his own medical care and to cover additional surgeries he still needs.
He says the city only offered him $4,000, equating to $20 a year. He called that pathetic. The mediator will now make a decision on the matter, and if the city rejects the mediator’s decision, he says the case will go before a workman’s comp judge. However, that could take some time.
“Why does the city, in this case, have such issue taking care of their officers? I mean, they’re screaming for more officers,” he said.
Golson and the APD union, say this isn’t an isolated problem. APOA President Shaun Willoughby gave multiple examples of current APD officers, who are afraid to speak up in fear of retaliation, that are going through the same thing.
The two believe starting this conversation could help change the problematic pattern. They hope state lawmakers, some of whom have unsuccessfully tried to pass legislation related to first responders injured in the line of duty, will take up the issue.
As for the City of Albuquerque, on Mayor Richard J. Berry’s last day, a spokesperson for his office said the city had given Golson as much as the law and worker’s comp would allow, and deferred KRQE News 13 to the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Administration.
NMWCA said it could not comment on specific cases.