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Raleigh Officer Seeks Worker's Comp For Injuries Suffered While Serving Off-Duty

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RALEIGH — When a person is injured at work, it is expected that he or she will get worker's compensation if the injury prevents him or her from working.

A Raleigh police officer who was shot while working off-duty is not getting worker's compensation, even though he says he was representing the police department at the time.

In July, Officer David Powell was shot five times while working as a security guard at an east Raleigh sports bar. The city is not paying him worker's compensation benefits because it said that Powell was off-duty at the time.

Police officers often work off-duty jobs, like security, to supplement their incomes. Even when they are working off-duty, they wear their badges or uniforms and have the power to arrest.

According to guidelines set by the Raleigh Police Department, Powell was wearing his badge which identified him as a Raleigh police officer.

So the question is, is an officer ever really off-duty and where should the city draw the line?

"The city's position is I was off-duty, and my position is there was no such thing as off-duty," said Powell.

Powell still has pain in his hip and nerve damage in several places. Doctors say he cannot work, but he is out of sick time.

"I'm not angry, I'm just a little bit disappointed. I would like to see the city go to bat, step up to the plate," said Powell.

"We do carry worker's comp on all of our employees," said Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen.

Allen admits that there is a gray area when it comes to worker's compensation and how it applies to police officers.

"Worker's comp with police officers is a little bit different because a police officer, being a sworn officer, carries with them their duties and responsibilities whether they're on-duty or off-duty," he said.

Powell said that he is getting by thanks to a city policy which allows officers to donate their sick time to a colleague. So far officers have donated about 60 days to Powell.

"When I heard about that, that touched my heart because I realize how officers work hard for their time. For them to give it up to help someone else out is really nice," Powell said.

Powell continues to negotiate with the city to get some kind of compensation to help his family get by until he can return to work. He hopes to return to duty in March or April.