DALLAS - A trust fund set up for the families of five fallen officers in Dallas has created distrust among one of the widows — a police officer herself.
As the city prepares for a weekend of honor to remember five officers killed in the attack on Dallas officers on July 7, the widow of one of the slain officers has filed a lawsuit over funds that have come in for the families
Dallas Police Detective Katrina Ahrens has now filed three lawsuits around the tragic events of ambush attack in 2017. And she is the only family member of any of the fallen officers to sue over the trust fund set up to distribute the generous donations that have come from around the globe
“I have a very hard time understanding why one of our own, being a Dallas police officer, would find fault with this,” said Mike Mata with the Dallas Police Association’s Assist the Officer Foundation.
The trust fund was set up by the ATO to distribute more than $10 million in donations that poured in for the families of the slain officers.
Katrina Ahrens lost her police husband, Lorne Ahrens, the night of the attack on law enforcement.
“Her job is to protect this community,” said her attorney, Casey Griffith. “And she does not believe that it’s the ATO’s job to tell her how to protect her family.”
Katrina is now suing the DPA and DPA President Fred Frazier, the ATO and the city of Dallas over the portion that should fall to her and her children.
“We have been asking the ATO to provide documentation for the donations that were made for months,” Griffith said. “That documentation has not been forthcoming. The ATO made representations last fall that an audit had been performed, and we are not aware that an audit actually has been performed.”
The lawsuit charges "the ATO and the DPA were not equipped to handle the generous donations they received… The ATO has refused to provide plaintiff a detailed account of the funds collected. [ATO] decided to hold the donations made to plaintiff hostage unless plaintiff agreed to their many self-imposed restrictions on how the donations would be disbursed."
The suit also alleges the city of Dallas intercepted mail belonging to Katrina and opened that mail. In some cases, the suit says the city held checks for more than 90 days, rendering them void.
Attorney Chrysta Castaneda, who is not involved in the case, reviewed the lawsuit.
“It’s really difficult to sue a governmental entity like the city of Dallas,” she said. “There’s really limited circumstances in which that can be done particularly when we're talking about something that’s discretionary like administering this money.”
Mata contradicts Katrina’s attorney and says they've been transparent but acknowledges they were overwhelmed. But he defended the process of setting up trusts as the best way to distribute donations.
“We just felt we were doing the right thing by the legacy of the officers who died,” Mata said. “It was to protect these families. It prevents them from being sued in getting towards these monies. It’s tax-free. These monies will increase in value because it’s managed money by professionals.”
Heidi Smith lost her husband, Mike Smith, in the ambush attack last July. She is disappointed with the lawsuit but not with ATO or the trust fund.
“To me, I never gave a second thought to putting the donations in trusts for my children and myself,” she said.
Katrina’s lawsuit also includes a temporary restraining order that prevents the Assist the Officer Foundation from disbursing any money that has been collected through donations until the lawsuit winds its way through the courts. A hearing on July 10 will determine if the restraining order will stay in place.