Wife fights for her disabled husband’s benefits after debilitating shooting
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Cathy Hyche, a JCPS teacher describes her husband Darrell as a loving father with a great sense of humor.
“He’s 54,” she told WAVE 3 News. “Unless you ask him.”
But the lifestyle of the long time Army Veteran and LMPD detective came to screeching halt in February, 2018.
“I was hysterical,” Cathy recalled.
Darrell Hyche was investigating a drug cartel when he was shot, not once but twice.
“You can’t wrap your mind around your spouse being shot in the head because you know what that means,” Cathy said. “People don’t survive that.”
One 45 caliber bullet entered near Darrell’s mouth, exiting through the back of his neck. The other struck him in the forehead, but luckily didn’t penetrate his skull.
Hyche survived, but with a price. He continuously suffers from memory loss, painful nerve damage, PTSD, a dislocated jaw and headaches that knock him out.
The shrapnel that remains inside of his face prevents doctors from conducting an MRI.
“He has some headaches that are on a scary level, they have scared me,” Cathy said.
But there’s more that keeps Cathy up at night.
Hyche has until July 1st to either quit LMPD, take medical retirement or be terminated. Cathy says the problem the current state law which would pay Darrell about $11,000 of his salary a year under medical retirement. It’s much less she said than had he been killed.
“It’s insulting. It’s disgusting,” Cathy said.
Currently, the Medical Retirement benefit, which pays 25% of a public employee’s salary who is participating in the retirement system, would also be reduced by normal deductions.
Cathy is fighting for House Bill 139 this legislative session to increase the percentage of 75%.
She is also having to fight against the League of Cities who says salary for public employees in the pension system could cost too much.
“City officials support all of their employees, including law enforcement,” Bryanna Carroll, the Director of Public Affairs for the League of Cities said in a statement. “The Kentucky League of Cities has been consistent in our belief that any change to the local pension system needs to be carefully considered and reviewed.”
Carroll explained they are in support of the provision of the bill that provides health insurance for disabled employees and their families, adding that they continuing to review the impact any benefit increase would have on local taxpayers.
According to an independent actuarial analysis by GRS, or Government Retirement Systems, the bills’ cost is not even half of a percent of what taxpayers contribute to the pension system.
Carroll did provide a chart which shows that a 45-year-old male, with a spouse and two dependents on a $75,000 salary could get nearly $13,000 a month in benefits.
However, Cathy refutes those numbers as reality.
According to the Department of Criminal Justice Training, the average starting salary for an officer in the state is roughly $33,000. A $75,000 salary, is something LMPD Officers would have to work past their retirement eligibility to receive.
Cathy says the benefit amounts listed by the League of Cities in their charts, like workers compensation and social security are not guaranteed.
In fact, that’s a disclaimer the League of Cities included in the very same chart showing the numbers Cathy discredits.
“Social Security disability benefits may be reduced,” the document states. “Not all hazardous duty employees are covered by Social Security. Workers’ compensation does not include post-injury medical benefits paid.”
Carroll added that injured workers also receive a supplemental stipend through the pension fund. She said the League of Cities continues to work with the bill’s sponsor.
Meanwhile, the Kentucky State Fraternal Order of Police is also supporting the bill.
“Law enforcement officers like Det. Hyche put their lives on the line each day,” Ryan Straw, the Governmental Affairs Chair said in a statement. “If an officer becomes permanently disabled because of a line of duty incident and are unable to serve in a sworn capacity, they should not have to worry about when the next paycheck will come or if they will have medical insurance for their family. The FOP is confident that the passage of these bills will take a barrier away from those families already suffering and will prevent any future heartache for those who choose a life of service to their community.”
Cathy is preparing to testify before lawmakers, fighting for injured public employees and her husband.
“It brings me to tears to even think about it,” she said. “I would do anything for him.”
Copyright 2021 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.