FOX 29 Investigates: Police Officer Injury Case - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

FOX 29 Investigates: Police Officer Injury Case

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A Philadelphia cop says the city he swore to protect and even the union he belonged to have abandoned him in his time of need.

Herbert Spellman claims he was hurt on the job and can't work, but the city pension board doesn't see it that way, FOX 29 Investigates' Jeff Cole reports.

From a distance, the 50-year-old Spellman has the body of a pro football player with broad shoulders on a 6-foot-frame, weighing 300 pounds.

But to see him walk is to witness a man who appears to be in bone-grinding pain.

Asked what kind of pain he's in, Spellman says, "Back, neck, nerve damage, knees – you name it, it's painful."

"I loved, you know, just protecting and serving and helping people. That was my nature," says the former Philly cop, who wore the uniform for 20 years before he says a crash in his patrol vehicle back in 2006 ended his career.

"I got rear-ended, I believe that, and I was knocked unconscious. And, as a result of that, I'm in terrible pain," he says.

Spellman says his pain is so severe he cannot to return to work. He wants the city to grant him a full pension and cover his medical benefits.

But the city just does not believe he's injured. In fact, he's been denied full benefits related to his injury continually both in front of the pension board and in court.

Medical records given to FOX 29 Investigates by Spellman show in July of 2006, just a month after his crash, Dr. Jay Glickman found his trauma was: "directly and causally related to the injuries sustained in the accident."

In March of 2007, Glickman writes that "the final diagnoses in this report are a direct result of the accident."

Three years later, Dr. Gene Salkind, who was treating Spellman for neck and back pain, reports he is "totally disabled from full duty police work."

Spellman said, "They looked at the MRI and everything and they said that, 'You have a permanent injury. You're pretty messed up. You've got several discs messed up, and you've got nerve damage. And there's no way that you can return back to work.'"

Spellman, who FOX 29 first spoke with earlier in the year, walks with an obvious limp and with the help of a cane.

He says, other than several years of workers compensation payments, which ended in 2012, he has been without an income.

He says his wife supports his family, but it's not enough to keep his home out of foreclosure.

"I attempted to go back to work and got injured even more and, as a result of that, I lost my income now and I'm without anything," Spellman said.

Here's a big reason why: In September 2009, Dr. Arnold Berman, a Drexel University professor of orthopedic surgery, found that Spellman's injuries were "now fully resolved" and that he "may work as a police officer full time without restrictions."

Cole said, "Let me just argue from the city's perspective: … He's all right, he needs to go back to work, pension money is taxpayer money, we can't give him this."

Spellman replied, "I know my body's not lying because I'm in pain all the time."

In December of 2009, the city Board of Pensions denied him disability benefits and did it a year later.

FOX 29 called the pension board, but it was the mayor's spokesperson who returned our call to say Spellman had access to "due process."

The police officers' union said it couldn't talk. It said to do so would be a violation of medical privacy.

As for Spellman, he regrets ever becoming a Philly cop.

"You know, I became a police officer to better myself, to provide for my family. And now, you know, it seems like I made the wrong choice here," he said.

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