Family of murdered Minnesota corrections officer gives state ultimatum |

Family of murdered Minnesota corrections officer gives state ultimatum

Jay Kolls
Updated: May 20, 2021 10:48 PM
Created: May 20, 2021 09:43 PM

In 2018, corrections officer Joseph Gomm was murdered by an inmate at the Stillwater Corrections Facility, and his family has agreed to a $3 million settlement with the state — if the Legislature approves the agreement.

But the legislative session is now in extra days, and no appropriation has been approved.

On Thursday, Gomm’s family members, joined by their attorney, urged Gov. Tim Walz to get involved to break the stalemate at the Capitol. Otherwise, they said they would file a lawsuit by July to meet the statute of limitations for suing for a wrongful death.

Attorney Mike Padden said Walz and his wife Gwen both gave the Gomm family assurances that they would help the family in any way they could.

“A direct quote from the governor to Gomm’s sister was, ‘This should never have happened and we will make things right,’” Padden said. “Mrs. Walz specifically said this to my client: ‘Please contact us if you need anything,’ and, well, this is the time. Now is the time.”

Audrey Cone, Gomm’s sister, told KSTP the settlement money is not the overriding concern for the family.

“We want somebody to stand up and take responsibility and admit that mistakes were made because Joe didn’t have to die,” Cone said. “Joe was not safe at work, and for someone to finally admit that and take responsibility would mean everything, and that’s why we are still seeking justice for Joe.”

Video of Minnesota corrections officer murder released; family seeks settlement

The Governor’s Office referred KSTP to the Minnesota Department of Corrections for comment and a DOC spokesperson issued a statement that said, in part:

“Since the death of Officer Joe Gomm, substantial changes have occurred at Stillwater. Changes include a comprehensive look facility-wide at operations, eliminating double-bunking, improving staffing patterns and levels in industry areas, revision and updating of the tool control policy, improving work area layouts, along with updates and additions to camera systems. Staff no longer work alone with the incarcerated population. When an individual staff members passes through an area, staff have visuals of each other or are monitored on camera. Security personnel in the industry shops do rounds on a two person basis.

"In addition, Minnesota has a law regarding line of duty death benefits for corrections officers under MS 299A.44. The law provides a mechanism for eligible families to receive a separate cash line of duty death benefit in addition to workers compensation. The legislature also created an education benefit for surviving spouses and children under MS299A.45 (note that Officer Gomm did not have a spouse or children so this didn’t apply to him). The Gomm family has received a line of duty death benefit payment from the state of Minnesota.

"There is also a federal line of duty cash payment death benefit for the surviving family. More information here.  The Gomm family has received a line of duty death benefit payment from the federal government.

"In addition to the state and federal public safety officer line of duty death benefit payment, Officer Gomm’s estate accepted compensation under the Workers Compensation Act.”

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