Family of sheriff’s deputy who died by suicide calls for more burial respect

8 On Your Side

ST.PETERSBURG Fla. (WFLA) – We’re following up with the family of a sheriff deputy, Kevin Levi, who died by suicide last week. According to his family, Levi’s funeral is scheduled for Sunday. The public is invited, details are at the bottom of this story.

8 On Your Side spoke with Levi’s family Monday morning and they were upset that this he wasn’t receiving the same funeral presentation from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office as if this was a Line Of Duty death or a job-related death. However after 8 On Your Side called the Sherrif’s office and explained, they called the family Monday night to offer Deputy Levi with a full Honor Guard and the folding/presentation of the American flag.

RELATED STORY: Suicide claims more first responders than line of duty deaths

According to Levi’s family, he was diagnosed with PTSD, depression, panic attacks related to 15 years on the force. That family says that PTSD is what led him to die by suicide. The family says they reached out to Commissioner Kathleen Peters who is an advocate to see if she can help.

Pinellas County Deputy Kevin Levi’s family said he suffered from job-related PTSD and sadly took his own life last Tuesday. Lauren, his 24-year-old wife, was home at the time Deputy Levi died by suicide. She said she heard the gunshot from the other room and hoped it was a misfire but she quickly knew that wasn’t the case.

According to the organization “Blue help” more officers die by suicide every year than in the Line Of Duty. The Pinellas County Sherriff’s Office contends “While this is not a line of duty death, we have told Kevin’s family that we will provide the appropriate recognition at his services.” Here’s the full statement from the PCSO:

PCSO representatives have been and will continue to be in contact with the Levi family and we are doing all we can to help them through a very difficult time. While this is not a line of duty death, we have told Kevin’s family that we will provide the appropriate recognition at his services. Our Human Resources Bureau has been working with Deputy Levi’s wife and through various insurance policies and other payouts she will receive a substantial sum of money. Kevin was a part of our family as he was a part of theirs and we share in their loss. An In the Line of Duty Death – Death that is the direct and proximate result of a traumatic injury sustained while performing duties of the assigned job. The agency’s response to a casualty is largely based on the desires of the surviving family members. We continue to work with the family during this difficult time.

Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office

We also reached out to Pinellas County Commissioner Kathleen Peters. The Levi family reached out to her out of frustration a few days ago that her husband’s PTSD job-related death wasn’t being treated as a Line Of Duty death.

Mrs Levi, First I give you my condolences. I am truly sorry that you and your family are going through this very difficult and tragic time. The information you provided has truly shocked me. I truly did not know that suicide was an exemption.  I will speak with the Sheriff. I will also determine if this is a state issue and/or a county issue. You are correct that no family should have this additional trauma because of political Bureaucracy. I will keep you all in my prayers. I promise I will look into this.

Commissioner Kathleen Peters to Mrs.Levi

She went on to say to 8 On Your Side

I am very frustrated that mental illness is not considered a health illness. If he died from any other disease, this would not be an issue. It is truly a shame especially if he died from suicide that is work related. I believe most of this is a state issue. I will have to advocate that the legislature look at this issue. 

Commissioner Kathleen Peters to Mrs.Levi

Deputy Levi continues to serve his community. He is an organ donor, even in death, he’s helping others. The public is welcome to pay its respects at his funeral this Sunday at 4:00 pm.
It will be at the First Baptist Church on Gandy Boulevard in St.Petersburg, FL.

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