The wife of an SMU police officer who died when he was swept away in a creek working an off-duty job is battling to get state survivor's benefits.
Officers Mark McCullers was commissioned through the State of Texas, but he worked for a private institution – SMU. That disqualifies his family from receiving the same death benefits other police families receive in Texas, including college tuition for children and health insurance for those left behind.
The reason why the McCullers don’t qualify – the SMU officer wasn’t considered a state employee.
The benefits are important to Tiffany McCullers. Her pancreas had to be removed, and then a transplanted pancreas developed cancer and had to be taken out. She’s currently living without a pancreas and is set for another surgery on April 10.
The commissioner of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement said the state needs to change.
“In my opinion we have a moral commitment to look at it,” said Rob Kyker. “It’s not just law, it’s just right. What’s the right thing to do?”
McCullers and her family have a lease through June 28. The nearly $500,000 worth of insurance money she would have received is missed.
“Where do I live? How do I take care of my kids? How do I take care of my health?” McCuller said.
The Dallas Fallen Officer's Foundation and the Texas Fallen Officer Foundation have been gifting the family when it can.
McCullers hopes lawmakers will fix the problem -- not just for her, but for other officers who work for private institutions in Texas.