Deputy pushes for first responders bill after death of partner

VIDEO: Deputy pushes for first responders bill after death of partner

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - "My partner and friend Deputy Joe Matuskovic was murdered," Charleston County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Ackerman said to South Carolina lawmakers. "I was shot and almost killed and I was forced to take the life of the person who set these events in motion."

Deputy Ackerman spoke to local senators Monday evening, pushing for a bill for first responders to be covered under workers compensation for post traumatic stress disorder.

"We're not asking for handout," Deputy Ackerman said. "We're just asking for help so that we can continue to provide a service."

He addressed South Carolina lawmakers in a joint delegation meeting on behalf of first responders.

"I'm more than the badge I wear," Deputy Ackerman said. "I am a father to a beautiful seven year old daughter."

Nearly two years ago, on September 8, 2014, his life was almost taken. He was shot below the knee.

He saw partner Deputy Joe Matuskovic shot and killed. Deputy Ackerman then shot and killed the suspect.

"I've often thought it would have just been easier if I had died," Deputy Ackerman said. "And, I thought that was something only I thought about."

He soon realized he's not the only one who has had those thoughts.

He said since the incident hundreds of first responders have reached out to him, overwhelmed with their own grief.

Deputy Ackerman then spoke with Senator Paul Thurmond who soon introduced Senate Bill S-429, pushing for first responders to be covered for P.T.S.D. without having to prove an unusual and extraordinary circumstance.

The bill is currently stalled in the statehouse.

"I know it's been frustrating but i want to encourage you to continue," Senator Paul Thurmond said to Deputy Ackerman. "I'm not sure we're getting it done this year."

Others, like chaplains who've seen the tragedies, were there supporting the bill.

"There's not training in the world that can prepare you for psychological aftermath of a critical incident," Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy Deputy Senior Chaplain Rich Robinson said.

As the push continues, Deputy Ackerman says he'll remember who he's is fighting for.

"If (Deputy) Joe had survived, he would be going through the same things that I am," Deputy Ackerman said. "So, they understand the importance of getting the help for first responders."

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