Man stabbed while helping police officer may have financial assistance coming

Worker's comp attorney says state law on his side

SAN DIEGO - There are new developments in the case of a local hero who was stabbed while helping save the life of a San Diego police officer.

After a 10News report about Robert Haley's mounting medical bills aired last week, a viewer came forward with a possible solution that may be in the fine print.

Haley was stabbed in the arm in August 2011. He had jumped into a fight between a female police officer and a man with a knife. His injury required a trip to the hospital and follow-up care.

A few weeks ago, Haley was hailed as a hero by the San Diego Police Department. It was an honor that he thought was a bit hollow because of the financial burden he still carries.

A retired attorney contacted 10News, suggesting we speak with an attorney currently practicing worker's compensation law.  

10News learned that the California Labor Code specifically addresses the issue of coming to an officer's aid.

Attorney Eric Gritz told 10News, "If an individual assists a sworn officer then he or she becomes an employee of the entity for which he is assisting. So if she's a San Diego police officer, he becomes an employee of the city of San Diego."

He said even without a cry for help, it is obvious.  

"Once he notices that she is a sworn officer and she's in trouble, I think it's his duty to assist her in any manner he could," said Gritz. 

The officer was in uniform and Haley recognized her because she patrolled the streets of his neighborhood in City Heights.

Haley reacted, not knowing that by law he had to.     

"California penal code 150 states that if that individual does not assist the officer, they can be fined up to $1,000 for not helping them," said Gritz. 

Haley never applied for help because he worried about losing federal disability payments.  

"I didn't want to be cut off," he said. "That's my living, my life dependency right there. I didn't want to jeopardize it."

Now, he is being told not to worry and that there's no conflict.

"Excellent, great news," said Haley. "It's really good news."

10News also contacted the District Attorney's Office. It is now looking into victim's compensation funds for Haley. 

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