Newtown Officer With Sandy Hook-Related PTSD Claim Faces Dismissal

Police union calls inadequate insurance the issue

A Newtown, Conn., police officer who was a first responder to the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting on his day off says he is unable to return to work because of post-traumatic stress disorder and is in danger of being fired.

Thomas Bean says he has been suffering PTSD since the horrific Dec. 14 shooting, in which 26 people were killed, including 20 children. Bean appeared on the TODAY show this morning with the Newtown Police Union President Scott Ruszczyk and union attorney Eric Brown of Waterbury, Conn.

Overwhelming emotions
"I can't describe the overwhelming senses of emotions that I had," Bean said, describing the massacre's aftermath. "That night I drank a lot. The next day I wanted to cut myself. I just felt so numb."

Even with PTSD therapy, Bean says, he still has flashbacks of the horrific scene. He entered one of the classrooms and witnessed the slain victims. "My wife tells me I was crying in my sleep."

Up to 15 officers missed some time at work because of PTSD-related disorders, according to the union. Of those who responded to the scene, Bean is the only one who has not yet returned to duty.

Unfit to return
Bean says his doctor has told him he is unfit to return to the force. The city's insurance covers only two years of benefits, while Bean is currently 12 years or so away from full retirement, according to the union.

In Bean's case, the insurance gap puts the city on the line for about $350,000, according to the Bean says other officers are also affected but afraid to speak up because of potential repercussions. According to the Hartford Courant, which broke the story, Bean's doctor provided a two-sentence letter stating Bean is 100 percent disabled.

Newtown Police Chief Michael Kehoe sent Bean a letter in the summer notifying him that "termination of your employment with the Newtown Police Department is warranted and will be my recommendation to the Newtown Police Commission."

Attorney Brown says the town has offered Bean retirement, disability retirement or resignation, but none of these options would leave him financially whole. The fourth option, which his client is pursuing, is a disability benefit as outlined in the police contract, Brown told TODAY.

Promise made
"I'm hoping that the town's going to keep a promise they made to us. They promised all the police officers if we do our job and something happens they're going to take care of us," Officer Bean told TODAY reporter Savannah Guthrie.

The union contract that covers police says that officers are entitled to long-term disability payments until they reach retirement eligibility, which in Newtown is 25 years of service, according to the union. Bean, who is currently receiving the long-term disability payments, is getting half of his regular salary.

Kehoe declined to comment to NBC News about the case and did not return a call from AOL Jobs.

Union attorney Brown told AOL Jobs at least one other officer has told him he doesn't know how much longer he can go on working. Brown said it can take up to two years for the effects of PTSD to manifest.

This is the first time the town has ever had to access its disability insurance policy to such an extent, Brown told AOL Jobs, and upon learning of the two-year limitation officials said the existing police contract "doesn't mean what it says."

When Bean's benefits expire, Brown said, the next step will be to file a grievance. He said the officer did not actively seek publicity. After the story broke in the Courant, the media frenzy began.

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Maybe he shoulda been a meter maid,

February 06 2014 at 2:17 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Aune Mitchell

Dear readers,
I spoke with Thomas Bean and, with his permission, have started the "Thomas Bean & Family Fund." All money raised goes to Thomas Bean and his family, and the fund and its contents have been approved by Thomas Bean. The fund can be found at
Please help support this hometown hero. Any amount helps. If you are unable to give, but still want to help, please share the link to the fund to help raise awareness.
Aune Mitchell

November 26 2013 at 5:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have lived in Sandy Hook all of my life. What happened that day is the most horrific thing that ever happned in that tiny community. It is so easy to have opinions about the tragedy when there is no personal connection to that event. When the first responders arrived in the school, they had no idea what they were about to uncover. Before giving a negative opinion about this officer..or any of the Newtown police ask yourselves what would you do if you saw the carniage that day. Those police officers have small children themselves...some were at that school. How would you react if you saw 20 little 6 year olds dead with multiple bullet wounds..some nothing left to themselves plus the teachers. Along with that seeing the parents who just dropped those kids off to school and the horror when they learned their fate. Our town will never be the same and all who were there that day will never be the same either.

November 14 2013 at 11:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Has he otherwise enjoyed his 2 year Paid Vacation, complete with Health Benefits? Time to go out and earn another one, if a career change is required, do it. His Doctor obviously found a steady, well insured customer to pay the bills (consider it his Community Refund). Hunger and potential Homelessness is a sure Cure for the overwhelming symptoms of PTSD, time to rejoin the Human Race, Isolation is less beneficial than being medicated and institutionalized.

November 14 2013 at 7:09 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rondonit's comment

Do you have any understanding of the concept of time? How has he gotten a "2-year paid vacation" when the massacre took place only 11 months ago? You are obviously just another corporate executive-loving, worker-hating Bagger troll. I'm embarrassed to live in the same country as fascist losers like you.

November 14 2013 at 11:24 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Something is "amiss" here. The man has no doubt seen a hugely traumatic event. No one should ever have to witness an event such as this OR the post events. That said, there are men and women by the thousands who have served in the Armed Forces ( as an example ) often young teens, who have witnessed the carnage of people or the after effects such as the lifeless bodies, men, women and children. They have gone on to live lives and have dealt with PTSD even when such was not known as PTSD. The men who were sent to Pearl Harbor for the detail of removing and recovering the dead are an example of those who definently saw some of the most horrible of sites. He went home and drank heavily? Yes, many do drink and do so heavily. That is not good but it is considered normal. He felt like cutting himself? THAT is not normal but it is also something that doesn't develop overnight. That is a sign of something longer term and usually manifests itself overtime...not the "next day". I've dealt with a teen who was doing that to herself and it didn't just happen because of a single event, it started because of life events over a period of time. This is a career police officer with 12 years to go before retirement out of 25 years. He has been in the force for quite sometime. He had to have had some strength, mentally, to be in this career....He lost it over night because of one event? I can not "buy into" it. I feel that he was unhappy with the career prior to this event and it might have provided the potential of escape.

November 14 2013 at 4:59 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to HAT1701D's comment

Living in Sandy Hook all of my life it's hard for anyone to understand what the parents, teachers, students and first responders went through that day unless they were there. It is easy to say those things when you personally have no connection to what happened that day. Many teachers as well as the first responders went to that school when they to were little. No one in town would ever think something like that would ever happen here. Whatever your opinion is, you did not personally see the carnage that day!!! The next time you see a little 6 year old imagine what their little bodies would look like with 11 bullets..some at close range would look like. I can't " buy " your opinion..especially when you first were not there second don't have a personal connection to the town!!

November 14 2013 at 11:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to gmobuffgg1's comment

Don't let these haters get to you they don't know any better. God bless!

November 23 2013 at 1:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

I don't doubt this guy is suffering from seeing what he saw but in my opinion the only way to get better is to get involved in other things (like a new job) I don't think he will ever get better until he might be hard for a few years but you gotta push aside the pain and go on. Maybe moving out of that area might help too

November 14 2013 at 3:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You can't just keep on feeding off of the system without ever giving back. Personally I think his excuses sound lame. If he is that weak then he doesn't need to be in that line of work anyway.

November 13 2013 at 11:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to my89300zx's comment

You sound like a Bagger weakling who couldn't stand to deal with 5 seconds of what this man went through. Trashy losers like you are a disgrace to this country.

November 14 2013 at 11:25 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

He is a disgrace to police officers who really have suffered traumatic acts and executives who go out on stress disablities as well. What they should do is make him a dispatcher and change his job qualification, retirement benefts and pay status.

November 13 2013 at 10:29 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to tigercub555's comment

Are you a police officer?

November 23 2013 at 1:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

He just wants a free Ride send him to a mental hospital.

November 13 2013 at 9:17 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I work as an Inspector for the FAA. When I first hired on, I was told that investigating aircraft accidents, often fatal, was a part if the job. In the last seven years, I have been a part of a number of fatal small airplane accidents that left us standing next to burnt and blackened bodies, bits and pieces of recognizable remains, and the scattered gel of humans (including children) who disintegrated when coming to a sudden stop from several hundred miles an hour. It's not pretty, it's not fun, it's not glamorous or enjoyable, but it's my job, and someone has to do it. I was an airline pilot before this, and it's not the type of experience I would expect anyone to envy. And with that, I have yet to see any of my colleagues running off to ask for PTSD full benefits from the FAA. We suit up, we find what we need, we clean up, and then we go home and live our lives. It's devastating for the victims and their loved ones, but for us it's all a part of what we swore to do when we raised our hand and took the oath. I'm sorry this gentleman couldn't deal with his job, and I hope he finds suitable work and a life that brings him peace at some point in the future. We all react to these things differently, but it's not the responsibility of the rest of the world when you can't deal with your lot in life as well as other people can.

November 13 2013 at 8:59 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Greg's comment

You're a heck of a lot nicer then I was.

November 13 2013 at 11:16 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Didn't he pay into the disability he is requesting. I know my husband was a correctional officer that committed suicide and I suffered ptsd and he was obviously he was suffering mental illness from his job. Correctional officers in ca pay directly to retirement not social security at all.

November 23 2013 at 1:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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