FOX 29 Investigates: Police Officer Injury Case - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

FOX 29 Investigates: Police Officer Injury Case

Posted: Updated:

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.

  • Send A Tip To FOX 29 Investigates

    Have a tip for Investigative Reporter Jeff Cole and the FOX 29 Investigates team? Send it now!

    * denotes required fields
    We're sorry, but only one entry is allowed per person.
    Thank you for your continued interest.

    Thanks for submitting your tip!

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Police: Man Shot, Robbed Of 70K In Grocery Store Parking Lot

    Police: Man Shot, Robbed Of 70K In Grocery Store Parking Lot

    Thursday, August 28 2014 10:29 PM EDT2014-08-29 02:29:43 GMT
    Philadelphia police say a man was shot and robbed when he pulled into the parking lot of the Pathmark on the 2100 block of Bleigh Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia just after 6 p.m. on Thursday.
    Philadelphia police say a man was shot and robbed when he pulled into the parking lot of the Pathmark on the 2100 block of Bleigh Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia just after 6 p.m. on Thursday.
  • Police: SUV Disregards Red Light, Hits Tractor Trailer Into Mayfair Home

    Police: SUV Disregards Red Light, Hits Tractor Trailer Into Mayfair Home

    Thursday, August 28 2014 8:53 PM EDT2014-08-29 00:53:41 GMT
    Police say an SUV collided into a tractor trailer, which caused the tractor trailer to crash into a house on the 6300 block of Farnsworth Street in Mayfair around 7 p.m. on Thursday.
    Police say an SUV collided into a tractor trailer, which caused the tractor trailer to crash into a house on the 6300 block of Farnsworth Street in Mayfair around 7 p.m. on Thursday.
  • NICE FRIDAY

    Thursday, August 28 2014 8:47 PM EDT2014-08-29 00:47:30 GMT

    The holiday weekend is looking warmer and unsettled. Shower and thunderstorm chances increaselate Sunday and Labor Day.

    Fantastic Friday

    Friday features lots of sunshine and more low humidity. Pleasant northerly breeze. Cool morning lows in the upper 50s/low 60s. Afternoon high of 81.

    The holiday weekend is looking warmer and unsettled. Shower and thunderstorm chances increaselate Sunday and Labor Day.

    Friday (81/60): Sun

    Saturday (83/64): Sun/Clouds

    Sunday (89/69): Clouds/Storm

    Monday (90/71): Clouds/Storm

    Tuesday (91/71): Clouds/Storm

     

Powered by WorldNow

WTXF-TV
330 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106-2796

Phone: (215) 925-2929
Fax: (215) 982-5494

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices