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A first responder to Orlando’s 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting is being fired from his desk job at the Eatonville Police Department just six months shy of being eligible for full pension benefits.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the Eatonville Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday to pay Cpl. Omar Delgado, lauded as a hero for saving Pulse patron Angel Colon amid the mass shooting, the $1,200 that Delgado accrued in sick time. His job ends on Dec. 31.
After the shooting, Delgado said he came back to the department within months, but had to take a desk job for the past eight months because of his post-traumatic stress disorder, answering phones and doing lighter tasks.
On Monday, he was told his position would be eliminated at the end of the month, allowing him to receive 42 percent of his $38,500 salary annually in 10 years, when he’s 55. If he were to be fired six months later, however, Delgado would have been with the department for a full 10 years, allowing him to enroll in the pension system. This would have given him access to 64 percent of his salary annually, plus benefits, for life.
“It’s hurtful,” Delgado told the Sentinel. “It’s a small town. Everyone’s family here, and I thought I was going to be treated like family…I didn’t think I was going to be treated this way.”
At the Town Council meeting for Tuesday’s vote, Mayor Eddie Cole questioned the intent of the OneOrlando Fund and the onePULSE Foundation, asking why funds weren’t also provided to Pulse shooting first responders and their families. Colon, the man Delgado saved, attended Tuesday’s meeting in support of the officer, and said the department should be supporting him, too.
“It’s a horrible feeling because this man, Omar, has been there for me ever since June 12,” Colon said. “He’s the person who saved my life.”
In a larger context, Delgado has called upon Florida lawmakers to better support law enforcement and first responders with PTSD. So far, a workers compensation insurance bill requiring coverage of mental-health treatment for first responders with PTSD has advanced in the Florida Senate, and could be heard as early as Jan. 9. However, similar proposals introduced last year have stalled.
“I was able to save Angel, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but now I suffer through my agony,” Delgado told WFTV 9. “What do I do now? I’ve been an officer almost 10 years, and it’s all I’ve loved and known how to do, and now that it’s foreseen that I can’t do that anymore it’s a shock to me.”
H/T New York Post
Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.