Reporting Rachel Slavik
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – More than two years after surviving an attack, a St. Paul police officer is in a new fight for what her family calls fairness.
Investigators say Thomas Swenson kicked Officer Felicia Reilly in the head when she went to check out a 911 call in 2010. The attack caused permanent injuries and forced her off the job.
As longtime veteran of the St. Paul Police Department, Reilly wore her uniform proudly.
“She’s a decorated officer,” said Ben Reilly, Felicia’s son. “She always wanted to be a police officer her entire life.”
But on March 24, 2010, her career dream that forever changed when she responded to a 911 hang-up call at a home on Birmingham Street.
“They sent one officer, because it was a routine call,” Ben Reilly said.
According to the criminal complaint, Swenson had threatened his parents. While Reilly tried to put him in handcuffs, Swenson resisted. He’s accused of kicking Reilly, repeatedly, in the back and head. At one point, Reilly thought he was going to kill her. Reilly survived, but the attack had a lasting impact.
“She never wanted to retire at this age,” Ben Reilly said. “She had another 10 years.”
Pain would keep her off the job, but her son said the biggest blow came when her worker’s compensation benefits were denied.
“It makes me very mad,” Ben Reilly said. “I’ve been very upset about this entire situation.”
What’s at issue is the extent of Reilly’s injuries. Her family said she now deals with ongoing vision problems, PTSD, chronic pain, and a cognitive disorder due to a traumatic brain injury.
“The second hardest thing is to have people claim she’s a loafer, pretending to be hurt,” Ben Reilly said.
Swenson will be in court next week, but for Ben, justice extends beyond the criminal courtroom.
“I know what I understand is right, and this isn’t it,” he said.
The city says it can’t talk about personnel issues. The family is also upset that Reilly is no longer being paid while she’s on leave.
We did reach out to the worker’s compensation attorney who’s fighting the claims, but he is out of town until Monday.
Swenson faces first-degree assault charges. Even though the assault happened two years ago, he wasn’t charged until last week.
The County Attorney said if they had charged the case back in 2010, it would have been third-degree assault, due to her injuries.
The long lasting medical issues raised it to a level where a first-degree assault charge fit the injuries.