Travis the Chimp Precluded Workers Comp Recovery

It has been over a year since Travis, the 200-pound chimpanzee, went berserk, mauled Charla Nash and left her for dead.

As you may remember, the chain of events started after Travis’ owner simply asked Ms. Nash to help lure the chimp back into her house.

While she survived, it is an absolutely understatement to say that Ms. Nash’s life will never be the same.

Frank Chiafari, the police officer who shot the chimpanzee after it tried to get into his patrol car, was forced to suffer as well. Despite suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the incident, his claim for workers’ compensation was denied.

As reported last month in the Huffington Post, Mr. Chiafari’s claim for post-traumatic stress disorder was denied because the state workers compensation law currently only applies to police shootings of people, not animals.

The bill introduced by State Sen. Andrew McDonald, on the one-year anniversary of the attack, is designed to help officers by providing workers’ compensation coverage for claims of mental or emotional impairment when officers are required to use deadly force on animals that attempt to injure them.

In Mr. Chiafari’s situation, Travis knocked off a mirror on the patrol car, ripped open the door and reached in for the officer. Although an animal, Travis’ strength surely rivaled that of a strong male.

“The animal is covered in blood, it’s just raging out of control,” Joseph Kennedy, president of the Stamford Police Association said. “Luckily, Frank was able to get his service weapon out from a seated position and shoot the animal.”

Understandably, the officer reportedly suffered anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares and mood swings.

Fortunately, Chiafari now is back on duty. However, according to reports, there was a time when he had difficulty sleeping and lost a great amount of weight as a result of the incident.

The officer just wants his medical bills covered and hopes the bill will allow others to realize that police suffer such injuries. He said the officer’s workers’ compensation claim was denied.

McDonald said the bill would apply to Chiafari’s case because it encompasses pending claims, including the officer’s appeal.