Daughter of slain NYPD officer struggles to access mom’s pension
The issue lies in a legal loophole that denies children of single-parent cops access to their parents’ pensions, says Genesis Villella
By Suzie Ziegler
NEW YORK — Genesis Villella was forced to drop out of school to take care of her younger siblings after her mother, an NYPD officer, was fatally shot in 2017. Since then, Villella says she’s been engaged in a five-year financial battle over her slain mother’s pension, according to the New York Post.
The issue lies in a legal loophole, the report says. Children of single-parent cops who die in the line of duty aren’t entitled to their parent’s pension for life, unlike spouses and parents of fallen officers, according to the Post.
“Since I’m raising my brother and sister, my mother’s dependents, as their mother — and I will be their mother for the rest of their life — I think we should get the pension for life the same way every other family of a police officer who is killed in the line of duty,” said Villella to The Post.
Villella’s mother, Miosotis Familia, 48, was ambushed while sitting in her patrol car. The incident was described as an “assassination” and an “unprovoked attack on cops” by then-NYPD Police Commissioner James O’Neill. Familia was a 12-year veteran of the force.
Now, Villella’s struggles continue. Her younger siblings, 17-year-old twins, can only collect their mom’s pension until age 23. Villella, 25, has already been cutoff. Still, her younger siblings must navigate legal hurdles like seeking approval from the Bronx Surrogate’s Court, which Villella describes as “torture.”
“Besides the daily grief of losing my best friend, my hero, I also have to worry if we will have money to pay the bills in a few years,” Villella told The Post.
Villella says it took four years just to get her mother’s pension checks through direct deposit.
Kathy Vigiano, president of Survivors of the Shield, a nonprofit that helps families of slain NYPD cops, says there should not be a cutoff at age 23.
“These kids are broken. It may take a few more years to finish college or a trade school,” Vigiano told The Post. “We should make life easier for these children, not harder.”
Villella says her mother was a dedicated civil servant who protected her city.
“The city should in turn take care of her children,” Villella told The Post.