Eyewitness News exclusive: Wounded IMPD officer denied full medical pension

IMPD Officer Jason Fishburn
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INDIANAPOLIS - The Indianapolis Metro Police officer shot in the line of duty just over three years ago is retiring, but he will not get a full medical pension.

Officer Jason Fishburn was shot in the head and nearly killed by a murder suspect in 2008. But the state agency responsible for public employee retirements says he's only eligible for a portion of his potential retirement money.

Dennis Fishburn says he is confused and perplexed by the state's decision. While his son would like to continue serving as a police officer, it's not possible. His life changed serving the community, and now many feel it's the community's turn to serve him.

On July 10th, 2008 Officer Jason Fishburn was shot in the head while trying to catch a murder suspect on the east side.

"He was protecting and serving the citizens of Indianapolis and Jason has some permanent injuries we don't think will ever come back in this lifetime," said Dennis Fishburn, also a member of IMPD.

So when Fishburn heard the Public Employees Retirement Fund (PERF) would only provide 69 percent of a patrolman's annual salary - about $41,000 - as a medical retirement, he was flabbergasted.

"This is all they want to give to one of our local heroes for bringing down a murder suspect," said Dennis Fishburn.

After more than a year of intensive therapy and recovery, Jason Fishburn was offered an office job at the police training academy, he worked there for about a year-and-a-half but decided it's work he can no longer do.

When Jason Fishburn initially applied for medical retirement, the IMPD retirement board recommended he get 90 percent of a patrolman's salary for the rest of his life. But the state did not agree with that amount. They made the decision even though they never heard from or met him.

Though his recovery is considered miraculous, Fishburn still has partial paralysis on his right side and walks with a limp. He has limited cognitive ability.

"Jason Fishburn is not going to have a normal life now," said Bill Owensby, Fraternal Order of Police.

So the $56,000 a year he would receive if he got the full amount is necessary for basic living expenses, something his fellow officers in the Fraternal Order of Police are willing to fight for in the form of an appeal that will likely cost thousands of dollars.

"They should be up in arms about this. Your viewership should be saying, 'Hey look, this guy, he deserves this retirement. He's done his duty and he's entitled to this retirement,'" said Owensby, who added, "I think, in the long run, this will rectify itself and he will get the full amount."

Eyewitness News contacted PERF to find out why they denied that 90-percent recommendation. They said they couldn't comment on the case specifically due to confidentiality rules. During the appeal, Jason Fishburn hopes to testify along side a doctor - hopefully that, his father says, will be enough to sway the state board.