Ex-PHX officer's family fights to get benefits

Posted at 8:25 PM, Feb 01, 2016

Board members with the Public Safety Personnel Retirement Board are meeting Tuesday to determine if the family of a former Phoenix police officer who committed suicide can get disability benefits.

Officer Craig Tiger was fired from the department in 2013 after getting a DUI. More than a year after his termination, he took his life.

The story raised questions about the Phoenix Police Department's efforts to help officers diagnosed with PTSD. It also led to the firing of the police chief at the time - Daniel Garcia.

Rebecca Tiger shared the last page of her ex-husband's seven page suicide note days after Tiger took his own life. It slams the city and the police department.

"You completely failed me. Shame on you for not helping me, Chief Garcia - I have no words," wrote Tiger.

Tiger says the city let him slip through the cracks after he shot and killed someone on the job in 2012. That's where his family claims his struggle with PTSD started, leading to his DUI one year later.

"The DUI saved his life," said Rebecca Tiger, ex-wife of Craig Tiger.

Rebecca says Tiger planned on killing himself on the anniversary of his police shooting. But instead, he got arrested. The DUI cost him his career with the department.        

"Why was he not worth saving?" said Rebecca.        

Rebecca blames the city and Chief Garcia, arguing officer Tiger's suicide should be considered an “in-the-line-of duty” death. She has filed for disability benefits on behalf of her and Tiger. But under Arizona law, the claim must have been filed within one year of termination. It is one of the many issues that will be discussed in the board meeting.        

"He didn't deserved to be kicked while he was down," said Rebecca.

In his goodbye note, written on the day he says he lost custody of his two children, Officer Tiger wrote about family problems, in addition to criticizing police.

"I was doing great until the court decided I wasn't. The medicine I take- they say isn't good...But I have never felt better," wrote Tiger.

His ex-wife feels the bottom line is PTSD caused his demise.

"This would be a chance to right a wrong. We no longer have Craig. But if his kids could get his benefits, It would be a step in the right direction," said Rebecca.