Officer's family angered over lien letter from the City

POSTED: 06:25 PM MDT Sep 25, 2013    UPDATED: 01:09 PM MST Jan 16, 2014 
EL PASO, Texas -

Their son is gone. The trial is over.

But the anger remains over how El Paso police officer Karl McDonough's death is being handled by the City.

In a couple weeks, the McDonough's will deal with the three-year anniversary of their son's death. Karl McDonough was killed in a crash with a drunk driver. As if that's not enough, the McDonough's got a letter from the City placing an $82,000 lien on any settlement reached in their wrongful death lawsuit.

"I finally said, that's enough," Paul McDonough said. "Let's make this public. Let's make people aware of what the city is trying to do."

Paul McDonough is infuriated. Last month, 21-year-old Alejandro Fierro was convicted of manslaughter, aggravated assault and DWI for causing the crash that killed McDonough's son. Fierro was sentenced to seven years probation and six-months in jail.

The McDonough family filed a civil lawsuit against Fierro, hoping to save the money for McDonough's daughter. But the City sent them a letter placing a lien on any settlement they receive.

"I was so angry and frustrated and I said to myself, "How dare you! This is one of the most absurd things I've ever heard of."

McDonough said he told City Council back in April about the situation.

"No one listened," McDonough said. "I did not get one response from a City Council member."

City watchdog Lisa Turner brought it up at Tuesday's City Council meeting.

"It's wonderful to know that my City legal department is stealing money from a child," Turner told City Attorney Sylvia Firth. "I want apologies, starting the two officers that are in this room, apologies for the callous, insensitive measure that you've taken."

City Attorney Sylvia Firth explained the letter is "standard practice" when a civil suit is filed.

"In this particular instance, there's death benefits being paid and so if there is recovery from the at-fault driver, as you say," Firth explained. "Then the first dollars are first offered to reimburse the City for the expenses we paid out."

McDonough, who placed a cross in his front yard in memory of his son, says it's still not right.

"Stop doing it, send apologies to everyone that they have ever done it to," McDonough said. "They should be totally ashamed of themselves."

McDonough told ABC-7 he feels like the tragedy of his son's death will never end. He said there's no closure when you lose one of your children. He added that the legal battle with the City has only made matters worse.