Metro officer sues city after benefits denied - WSMV Channel 4

Metro officer sues city after benefits denied

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Officer Clyde Stambaugh was diagnosed with severe PTSD. (WSMV) Officer Clyde Stambaugh was diagnosed with severe PTSD. (WSMV)
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Parolee Aaron Smith Jr. first pointed a gun at an officer's head in Smyrna. He then carjacked Deann Goetzinger at gunpoint.

Goetzinger remembers Smith pulling the trigger.

"It's true what they say, your life does flash in front of you," Goetzinger said.

After a chase, Smith ended up on Elliston Place in Nashville. Lisa Helton was inside the Calypso Cafe holding her 18-month-old baby.

"I just started running with my daughter in my arms," said Helton, who hid in the bathroom with about a dozen others.

"We were squeezed in. I remember people crying and praying, hearing the gunshots. People were scared," Helton added.

That was three years ago. Goetzinger and Helton still live with the memory every day.

“I felt like I might die," Helton said.

But they lived, and they credit the five Metro police officers who shot and killed Smith, including Officer Clyde Stambaugh, who has been diagnosed with severe PTSD and can't work.

But the Metro benefits board denied him his pension and benefits.

"This employee does not meet the criteria as he was trained to expect to do this in this line of work," said benefit board chairman Edna Jones.

"That is ridiculous because no amount of training is going to help you figure out how you're going to handle a situation when it happens to you," Goetzinger said.

Channel 4 called and emailed every board member who voted to deny Stambaugh's benefits. Jones responded with a statement:

The board cannot discuss this situation due to confidential medical information. Also, this case is currently in litigation and we cannot discuss any details.

Stambaugh filed a lawsuit against the city of Nashville and the benefits board.

"I was protected that night, and now I find out that this officer who has an emotional injury is not being protected himself," Helton said.

Helton, a lawyer herself, believes Stambaugh can and should win.

"I mean, if any of those board members had been there that day, I think their decision would be different," Goetzinger said.

Channel 4 reached out to Mayor Megan Barry who said she also can't comment on the situation because of the pending litigation.

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