Dallas, TX - Katrina Ahrens, the widow of Dallas Police Officer Lorne Ahrens, is suing the Assist An Officer foundation, the Dallas Police Association, and the city of Dallas, over donations that she has never received a dime of, according to NBC DFW.
She is asking for accountability, and she is asking for the donations that were mailed to the Dallas Police Department in her name be given to her.
The Assist An Officer foundation, through the Dallas Police Association, raised millions of dollars for the families of the five Dallas police officers who were assassinated on July 7, 2016. Nine other police officers and two civilians were also injured.
Katrina Ahrens, who is a detective with the Dallas Police Department, said that the foundation placed 'holds' on funds, and would not release the money unless she agreed to those 'holds.'
In the lawsuit, Detective Ahrens also said that the foundation 'illegally seized and opened mail that had donations, which were received by the city, and were addressed to 'Detective Katrina Ahrens'. Mata said that the DPA has nothing to do with the city's mail, and that it went to city hall then the police department.
In a news release, attorneys who represent Ahrens said that 'the foundation is attempting to impose unlawful limitations on the families' use of the funds and 'has ordered all donations for Detective Ahrens be held.'
In response, DPA president Mike Mata said, "I don't understand why this is coming up and I don't understand why it has to come up now."
He said that the foundation, which is a nonprofit charity under the DPA, is being accused of 'holding funds hostage,' and that trust funds were created, not just for the surviving spouse but also for the fallen officer's children.
The funds that were received, according to the DPA, are deposited into trust funds'... for the immediate use by the beneficiaries so long as it is for their health, education maintenance or support.'
Detective Katrina Ahrens said that not all of the funds that were donated can be accounted for. Her attorney Casey Griffith said that they've asked repeatedly about how donations came in, how the money was to be divided between the widows and their families, and whether they've actually had an audit done, as they had claimed.
He said that they asked for a copy of the audit, and when the foundation produced documents that they said were the audit, the first page had no mention that it was an audit.
Prior to Mata becoming president of the DPA this past January, 2017, Frederick Frazier was First Vice President, and then interim president of the DPA. Frasier is also included in the lawsuit, which said that he was front and center of the media after the rampage, through the foundation and the DPA.
Mata's response was that to question the foundation put a dark cloud over it, and that it was 'shameful'. In an emailed response to NBC DFW, the DPA said:
“Through the overwhelming outpouring of support and financial assistance in the aftermath of last July’s ambush shooting of five police officers, the Assist The Officer program received millions of dollars in donations to aid the officers’ families, including spouses and children.
In response to such a tragedy, and in consultation with attorneys for the Assist the Officer Foundation and attorneys from another large Dallas based non-profit, which donated approximately 20% of the funds received, our volunteer board comprised of active duty and reserve police officers decided to establish a trust to distribute the donated funds in order to guarantee the financial security of the widows and children of the officers slain in the line of duty.
Together, attorneys for the Assist the Officer Foundation and for another large Dallas-based non-profit, worked diligently to draft the trusts in a manner that would provide protection to the family members.
The majority of these trusts have been funded with a local bank serving as the initial trustee. The Assist the Officer Foundation has tried repeatedly to fund the trusts for Mrs. Ahrens and her children but have been informed that she refuses to accept the funds in trust for herself or her children.
It's unfortunate a law firm has filed this law suit as it could threaten the financial security of many police officers and their families in the future.
Dallas Police Association."