PHOENIX -- Years after the mysterious death of Phoenix Police Sgt. Sean Drenth, his widow, Colleen, has been awarded full survivor benefits.
"It's the first time we feel vindicated in a way. We've known all along that Sean did not do this to himself," the officer's mother, Diane, told 3TV.
Drenth was shot once in the head, and found in a parking lot near the state capitol in Phoenix in October 2010.
The Phoenix Police Department says the case is unsolved, and labeled it a "death unknown."
An official with the Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office labeled the death a suicide, and that, for the past two-and-a-half years, has prevented Colleen Drenth from receiving survivor benefits given to families of officers killed in the line of duty.
Colleen Drenth, with the help of her mother-in-law, Diane Drenth, has fought for months to get the City of Phoenix Police Pension Board to reconsider.
The family even hired their own independent investigators to review the evidence and submit their findings. Friday, the board voted unanimously to award full benefits to Colleen.
"This is step one, to get them to rule so we could apply for different memorials. That's what we'll be starting on next week," she said.
"This was not about money or finances, but about Sean being honored as a fallen officer,'' Diane Drenth added. "This is to get his name on memorial walls, which we haven't been able to do."