Denver jail deputies’ COVID deaths classified as ‘line of duty’ for department benefits


Deputies Daniel “Duke” Trujillo and James Herrera both work at the downtown Denver jail and died from COVID-19 within 10 days from one another. (KDVR)

DENVER (KDVR) — Denver Sheriff Elias Diggins announced late Thursday that the COVID-19 deaths of two of his downtown jail employees will be declared “line of duty” deaths through the department.

Daniel “Duke” Trujillo died on Wednesday, and James Herrera died 10 days before that.

The “line of duty” determination extends certain departmental benefits to the deputies’ survivors, but the city clarified earlier Thursday that the sheriff’s determination applies only to department-specific benefits.

It doesn’t, for example, determine whether an employee is eligible for a claim under the Colorado Workers’ Compensation Act, which is decided by Denver’s risk management office. The deputies’ life insurance company will also make a separate determination when it comes to “accidental death or dismemberment” disbursals.

Diggins said the “line of duty” determination allows for the following:

  • “Departmentally appointed liaison to his family
  • “Hospital Watch by sworn members of the DSD or other public safety departments (police, fire, sheriff)
  • “Departmental escort from the hospital to the funeral service provider
  • “Casket watch by sworn members of the DSD or other public safety departments (police, fire, sheriff)
  • “Honor Guard/full honors at funeral services and entombment/interment
  • “Benefits as recognized in the Collective Bargaining Agreement to include:
    • “Funeral costs in accordance with Article 20
    • “Medical and dental insurance for survivors in accordance with Article 10.6
    • “Permanent inscription on the DSD Fallen Officers’ Memorial”

Amid the two deaths, Colorado legislators said on Thursday that House leadership is considering a proposal to make the “line of duty” classification for first-responder COVID-19 deaths law.

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