Brad Coleman, an Illinois Department of Corrections prison guard, has filed a disability claim with the state's retirement board. His claim: a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), caused, he says, by the stress of working at a prison while his older brother is serving a life sentence for killing his own wife and children.
Coleman, 35, filed his disability claim on November 24, 2013. He had been employed as a guard at Illinois' largest prison, the Menard Correctional Center, and he seeks $32,000 per year (half his salary), for seven years.
While he is on unpaid leave from the prison, Coleman works as a barber and as a part-time police officer for his village police department.
Coleman's brother, Christopher Coleman, was convicted of strangling his wife and sons, 11 and 9, in 2011. He is incarcerated at an out-of-state prison, but Brad Coleman contends that the stress of worrying about his brother has caused him to develop PTSD.
"It's the [prison] environment. It weighs on you," Coleman has said about working as a guard with a brother doing a life sentence. "It's been a nightmare."
Coleman said that he was "haunted" by his guard duties, and that seeing other lifer-inmates on a daily basis reminded him of his brother.
Coleman's disability has been categorized as non-occupational, a classification used for disability events outside the workplace, according to Tim Blair of the State Employees' Retirement System. "He has applied and his application is being considered consistently with other applications," Blair said, citing privacy laws prohibiting him from divulging further details.
According to news reports, Brad Coleman attended his brother's two-week trial and sat with his mother, who entered the courthouse in a wheelchair. He was present every day and saw the grisly death photos of his sister-in-law and nephews, who were strangled in their beds. Sordid sex tapes and photos of Christopher Coleman and his girlfriend were also admitted at the trial as to Christopher's alleged plan to murder his family and make it look like an attack from unknown assailants. His case is still on appeal.
While Brad Coleman says he cannot handle the stress of working at the prison, he is apparently well enough to patrol the streets of Chester, Illinois, in his new job as a part-time police officer. Chester Police Chief M. Ryan Coffes said that "the circumstances of this situation are unique," and that he does not feel that Coleman's PTSD makes him a danger to the public.
Sources: Associated Press, www.correctionsone.com, www.hngn.com, www.sfgate.com
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