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Should Slain Deputy's Wife Collect 'Service-Connected' Benefits?

The widow of off-duty Marin County Sheriff's deputy killed in Petaluma last year says she deserves full benefits because her husband responded in his capacity as an officer. Others say he was off-duty and went there on his own accord.

Marin County Sheriff’s deputy Jim Mathiesen was killed last July when he went to the Petaluma home of a friend who was having trouble with an ex-boyfriend.

Mathiesen wasn’t on the clock, had alcohol in his system and didn’t follow protocol by calling for backup.

But his widow says she deserves “service-connected” survivor benefits, which total $50,000 a year tax-free, instead of the $16,000 taxable survivor’s pension she now receives, according to an article in Monday’s Marin Independent Journal.

Last month, a Marin County pension panel voted 5-2 to approve the service-connected pension. But because two members were absent, the panel will again gather and vote this Wednesday in an attempt to determine a fair payment for the widow.

Mathiesen was killed July 19, 2011 when he responded to the Liberty Road home of a friend who was being threatened by an ex-boyfriend.

The suspect, 28-year-old Novato resident Thomas Halloran, appeared at the home and killed the deputy, but was then shot to death by the woman's brother.

But according to the Marin County Sheriff’s Office, Mathiesen was not only off-duty at the time of his accident, but on paid leave due to an injury, and had been informed that he could not perform the duties of a deputy sheriff until he obtained medical clearance.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments below.

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Annette October 11, 2012 at 05:38 PM
I' so pleased to have had the opportunity to hear the opinion of the ONLY women who "knows". SMH
Claire October 11, 2012 at 05:40 PM
me too! :)
DC October 12, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Claire, Would you please show me the rule you are referring to, that I may compare it to the following Code to make a more informed decision. California Government Code 50921: Whenever any peace officer of a city, county, or city and county of this state is injured, dies, or is disabled from performing his or her duties as a peace officer by reason of engaging in the apprehension or attempted apprehension of law violators or suspected law violators or protection or preservation of life or property, or the preservation of the peace anywhere in this state, including the local jurisdiction in which he or she is employed, but is not at the time acting under the immediate direction of his or her employer, he, she, or his or her dependents, as the case may be, shall be accorded by his or her employer all of the same benefits including the benefits of the Workers' Compensation Law, which he, she, or they would have received had that peace officer been acting under the immediate direction of his or her employer. Any injury, disability, or death incurred under the circumstances described in this section shall be deemed to have arisen out of and been sustained in the course of employment for purposes of workers' compensation and all other benefits.
Keith S. October 12, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Here, here. Thank you!
Claire October 12, 2012 at 05:29 PM
DC - the Novato Patch put out the question whether Mathieson's wife should receive service-connected benefits. I read from the article that there were different opinions as to whether she was entitled to that and the Patch asked people to comment and express their opinion. If the only rule that applies to such cases were indeed Government Code 50921, the question of entitlement would have never arisen. I don't know if other rules apply, but most evidently there were reasons why her entitlement was in question. When I commented that his wife should not receive benefits since it wasn't service-related, my comment was based on the article on the Patch with what I assumed was a legitimate question. If this is a rule that applies to all cases across the board, no questions ask, I am all for his wife to get the service-related benefits - as long as the same rules are applied across the board. If you read the article in the IJ you will see that she has now been granted the service-connected benefits based on a vote of the Board. However, the decision was evidently not as clear-cut as you make it seem and several people on the Board, as well as the County Retirement Administrator, were against paying service-related benefits without appointing an investigative committee and they must have had their reasons for that - whatever those reasons are.

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