NEWTOWN, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — A Newtown police officer traumatized by the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre is speaking out about why he has not been able to work in months.
As CBS 2’s Dana Tyler reported Tuesday, Officer Tom Bean, who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and placed on long-term disability, fears he could be fired. Connecticut does not provide workers’ compensation for mental health care.
Bean was off-duty on Dec. 14, 2012, and rushed to Sandy Hook to help. He saw the carnage inside the school.
“Nothing can prepare you for that,” he said. “You’ve got teachers and students running out of the school and the worst possible scenes you can think of. That day killed me inside.”
Adam Lanza fatally shot 26 people — including 20 children — before he turned the gun on himself. He also killed his mother at her home.
After the shootings, Bean said he cried, drank a lot and lived in a fog.
“I was sitting there with a razor blade wanting to cut myself,” he said. “I didn’t want to kill myself, but I wanted to feel something.”
In March, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy signed a measure for a state-run private charity, the Sandy Hook Workers Assistance Fund, to help pay for mental health care.
“The trauma is being felt and will be experienced for a period of time,” Malloy said. “So there may be people — the volunteer firemen or state troopers or police officers — who may experience a year from now or two years from now difficulties in their life.”
Some say the private fund has fallen short, and legislation failed that would have made public workers eligible for mental health compensation after witnessing death or maiming.
Police Chief Michael Kehoe confirmed Bean is considered permanently disabled and suggested possible termination. Kehoe said the city has been advised not to comment further.
Scott Ruszczyk, president of the Newtown Police Union, said if Bean were hurt physically at Sandy Hook, he could retire with full medical coverage.
“The men and women of the Newtown Police Department who did respond that day did their job,” Ruszczyk said. “They lived up to their end of their contract. It’s now time for the town to live up to their end.”
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