California officers who were wounded off duty while attending the Route 91 music festival in Las Vegas and responding to the concert shooting have begun filing for public-employee benefits to cover the long-term medical care some might need to recover from the trauma.
But the cities and counties that employ them are asking themselves whether they’re required or even allowed to pay to treat off-duty police who chose independently to intervene in an out-of-state emergency. And due to some muddy language in California’s labor code, it’s unclear whether the municipalities will have to pony up.
On Monday, Orange County rejected workers’ compensation claims from four sheriff’s deputies injured in the shooting, paving the way for a court battle that could force appellate judges to eventually decide an untested issue touching several counties and cities in Southern California, the Orange County Register reports.
In Los Angeles County, which is considering whether to grant claims from two of its deputies shot Oct. 1 at the Route 91 Harvest festival, officials acknowledged they have no policy on how to handle such requests and said they expect the issue will result in litigation.
Several other officers from Southern California law enforcement departments also plan to file claims in the near future, according to police unions, potentially forcing as many seven other municipalities – including San Bernardino and Riverside counties – to soon consider similar questions.