A lesbian former Atlanta police officer gravely wounded in a shooting says the city refuses to pay for a surgery needed to relieve chronic pain in her injured arm.
Pat Cocciolone was shot six times, including in the head at point-blank range, during a domestic dispute call in October 1997. Her partner was killed and at least one other officer was injured. Cocciolone served as an openly gay officer for a decade prior to the shooting.
Cocciolone suffered extensive injuries and brain damage in the shooting and 17 years later, still must use a wheelchair for anything more than a short walk. Even after several surgeries and therapy to regain the ability to walk and talk, Cocciolone faces continued discomfort from her injuries. Now, she says the city is contesting her request that it pay for surgical repairs to her left arm.
“I just can't believe it, I really can't believe it,” Cocciolone told WSB. “This is just because of the shooting. I mean, I was shot six places. I'm not asking a whole lot.”
Cocciolone sued the city and said a judge ruled in her favor but the city is appealing the decision, according to WSB. The city says it's paid $1.8 million for her medical bills and their experts contend the latest surgery isn't related to the injuries she sustained in the on-the-job shooting.
It's at least the second time that Cocciolone has complained that the city has fought her care. In 2009, she was among five broken and battered officers who aired their complaints in a video.
The city, in a statement to Project Q Atlanta from spokesperson Jenna Garland, said it has gone “above and beyond what is required by law” to address Cocciolone's injuries.
“The City of Atlanta thanks Officer Patricia Cocciolone for her service to the Atlanta Police Department and maintains the highest level of respect for the sacrifice she made in the line of duty. The brave men and women of Atlanta’s police department do extraordinary work every day as they protect and serve Atlanta residents.
However, recently misleading and inaccurate claims were made concerning worker’s compensation for the officer’s injuries and related medical care. The City has gone above and beyond what is required by the law, choosing instead to extend our resources and honor Officer Cocciolone’s sacrifice by meeting her needs quickly and fully. We have supported Officer Cocciolone in her healing for many years.
Currently, the City of Atlanta’s Chief Financial Officer is reviewing the surgery request and working with the City’s outside worker’s compensation counsel to bring the matter to a swift resolution.”
Ken Allen, president of the Atlanta Police Union, blasted the delays during a City Council meeting on Monday as Cocciolone sat at his side.
“We are reliving the same thing. Deny, deny, deny our hero's treatment,” Allen said. (Go to 2:35 in the video below.) “Our heroes that need additional equipment until they get a court order. And now the city is appealing the court order. This is ridiculous and unacceptable behavior on our part for what these people gave up.”