Wichita Falls first responder fighting for expected benefits

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - One Wichita Falls police officer is still trying to recover from an injury he suffered in July. It's left other officers upset with the worker's compensation process, and they're doing something about it.

They plan on expressing their frustration at Tuesday's city council meeting over the city's risk management company for first responders, Edwards Risk Management out of Marble Falls, Texas.

In July Officer Tim Putney suffered a lower back injury after he was kicked and knocked onto a curb in a struggle with a suspect.

"It was that dreaded phone call that you don't ever want to get," his wife, Chelsea Putney said. "His supervisor called saying your husband was involved in an accident. He's okay but you need to get to the hospital."

Nine months later he is still dealing with the injury. His wife said that's because he's not getting the proper medical treatment.

"He had fallen down the stairs a couple times at work," Chelsea said. "So the doctor finally took him off light duty. He just keeps losing his feeling on his right side, which just causes him to immediately fall."

"When the MRI was read the very first time at the hospital, the doctor read it as if he just had a bruised back," she added. "We'd gone to a couple different doctors in Dallas that all looked at the exact same MRI and said that's not the case. He has several things wrong with him and the only way to fix this is surgery."

His wife said nearly all of his doctors' requests have been denied by Edwards Risk Management.

"The city is just saying that they have nothing to do with this," Chelsea said. "That they cannot help us at all. That it's just the process."

She said after a handful of doctor request denials, his doctors moved on and he filed an appeal with the city.

The Putney's said the city requested a required medical exam by a doctor of the city's choice.

A letter from Wichita Falls shows the city requiring Officer Putney to go see their doctor or he could lose his benefits.

Chelsea said the doctor recommended he go back to work with no restrictions because he was faking the injury.

However, the city's human resources department told Newschannel 6 an employee can pick whatever physician they want after an appeal regardless of what is recommended.

Other police officers are rallying behind the ten-year veteran.

"it just feels good to have them stand up, back us, and say that hey this is wrong and at any time this could happen to any of them," Chelsea said. "That's always what he wanted to do since he was little. He wanted to be a police officer."

We reached out to Wichita Falls City Manager Darron Leiker for further comment, but he was unable to say anymore due to possible pending litigation and the medical information being private.

Newschannel 6 will be at Tuesday's city council meeting and will bring you the latest if or when any police officers speak to the city council.

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