Parents of a Santa Barbara police officer are suing former police chief Cam Sanchez and former city administrator Jim Armstrong, alleging their son drank himself to death after Sanchez and Armstrong denied their son the medical benefits to which he was constitutionally entitled — workers’ compensation and medical retirement — after he sustained a debilitating case of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because of multiple harrowing work-related experiences. David Anduri Jr. (pictured) died at Cottage Hospital on October 13, 2014, of liver failure after what his parents’ attorney, Jonathan Miller, described as an “exemplary” 13-year career.
Miller contends that Anduri self-medicated with alcohol after city superiors denied him workers’ compensation in May 2013 even though Anduri had been evaluated by two doctors — selected by City Hall — and both concluded he’d been disabled by the stresses and strains of being a police officer. Miller’s legal filings described Anduri performing CPR on a man who shot himself in the head — and survived. Blood, he said “was shooting and pouring out” of the victim’s nose and mouth, and Anduri, who didn’t have a mask at the time, was drenched in the victim’s blood afterward. As an officer, Miller argued, Anduri was exposed to “dead bodies, suicides, violent assaults, sexual assaults, crimes against children, crimes against the elderly, gunshot wounds, hangings, etc. … ”
Anduri was training for the bomb squad when the stress caused physical tremors in his hands. Miller claims Anduri first exhausted his medical and vacation time and then applied for workers’ comp in 2013. For the Police Department, that year produced the highest number of workers’ comp claims — 1,064 — for the time between 2010 and 2015. Anduri was denied. When he sought medical retirement, he was denied that, too. Miller alleged Armstrong said Anduri should be made to “work for it.”
Making the lawsuit novel, Miller is alleging Anduri had a constitutional right to these medical benefits by virtue of certain legal rights that accrue only to public employees. City Attorney Ariel Calonne noted the abundance of “strongly worded allegations” and vowed to investigate them: “Officer Anduri’s death was tragic. The City will defend this case vigorously.”