Governor signs Jason McKissack Act into law

Governor signs Jason McKissack Act into law »Play Video
LAKEWOOD, Wash. -- Former Seattle Police Officer Jason McKissack lost his job and his benefits after an attack on the job left him with permanent brain damage.

But on Wednesday, McKissack, and other former officers in similar situations, got their benefits back after Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the Jason McKissack Bill into law at the Lakewood Police Department.

It's been a struggle for McKissack and his family since his injury. The former officer didn't know where to turn, unable to return to his job and fighting to pay mounting medical bills. Fighting to pass this bill was the only thing he had left.

McKissack's ordeal began with a call from dispatch last year about a group of people beating another man in West Seattle.

The father and husband was the first on the scene with no backup. He jumped into stop the fight and save the man's life. Then the crowd turned on him.

McKissack remembers getting five blows to his head. He fell to his knees and looked up just as he was being charged.

"He ran several feet and then did a soccer kick to my face," he said.

These days, McKissack struggles to walk. Permanent brain damage means he'll never be a cop again. And state law said if McKissack can't be a cop, he can't keep his medical benefits, and neither can his wife and two kids.

"If I would have got killed they would have been a lot better off," McKissack said.

But in the months that followed, McKissack's fellow cops came to his rescue.

"It's completely unacceptable, completely unacceptable," Asst. Seattle Police Chief Nick Metz said.

"To have no medical insurance is just not right. It cannot be the way we take care of our officers," said Seattle Police Officers' Guild President Rich O'Neill.

After he
shared his story with KOMO News, it became a community effort to push a bill to pay medical benefits for all officers, firefighters and corrections officers catastrophically injured on the job.

Both houses of the Legislature approved the bill, and on Wednesday, the governor signed it into law.

During a previous interview, McKissack and his wife told KOMO News they didn't want anyone to go through the same ordeal they have. And now they won't.