AUSTIN - Sergeant Craig Hutchinson radioed to dispatch claiming prowlers were in his back yard and requested backup. The officers responding found the sergeant dead. It was first suspected the deputy died in the line of duty.
The case being deemed suicide will impact how Sgt. Hutchinson’s family’s eligibility for line-of-duty benefits.
If the sergeant had died in the line of duty, they may be eligible for $339,881 from the Department of Justice, Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program.
Plus, the State of Texas offers special benefits to survivors of those killed in the line of duty.
From the Texas Employee Retirement System who is the administrator of the funds:
Chapter 615 benefits effective 9/1/2015
A lump sum payment of $500,000 from the State of Texas for the eligible surviving spouse, child, or parent.
- If there is more than one eligible surviving child or parent, the lump sum payment would be equally shared among the eligible survivors.
A possible monthly payment paid by the State of Texas to the eligible surviving minor children. The State would pay a monthly payment to the natural parent or legal guardian until the surviving children reach age 18:
- $400 each month, if there is one surviving child;
- $600 each month, if there are two surviving children;
- $800 each month, if there are three or more surviving children.
- All monthly payments would stop the last day of the month in which the child turns 18 years of age. If there are multiple children, the monthly payments will automatically stop when a child reaches age 18 and adjust accordingly for the remaining minor child(ren).
A possible monthly payment paid by the State of Texas to a surviving spouse if the deceased was a Certified Peace Officer or was employed by TDCJ (TX Gov’t Code Section 615.121).
- The monthly payment would be calculated based on the member’s and surviving spouse’s ages.
- The surviving spouse would no longer be eligible to receive a monthly payment from the State if he or she becomes eligible for Social Security monthly payments, remarries, or becomes eligible to receive a monthly payment from any other retirement program.
The State may pay up to $6,000 for funeral expenses if the deceased was a Certified Peace Officer or was employed by TDCJ (TX Gov’t Code Section 615.121).
The surviving spouse and/or children may be eligible for health and/or dental coverage from the State of Texas if the deceased was a Certified Peace Officer or was employed by TDCJ (TX Gov’t Code Section 615.072, 615.074).
The surviving spouse and/or children may be eligible for health coverage from the deceased person’s employer if the deceased was employed by a political subdivision of the state. (TX Gov’t Code Section 615.073 – 615.074).
Neither the federal government nor the state pays line of duty death benefits to an officer who commits suicide.