A police officer who was hailed as a hero less than two years ago says he's being kicked off the force because of his PTSD.
In the aftermath of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting, which was the deadliest mass shooting in American history at the time, news reports described how Officer Omar Delgado of the Eatonville Police Department dragged survivors out of the building to safety.
Delgado was a nine-year veteran of the department, and one of the first officers to arrive at the scene of the shooting. He says his experiences that night gave him post-traumatic stress disorder, and in the last eight months he was forced to take light duties to cope with his condition.
Now, the police department has declared him unfit for duty, and Delgado will be officially dismissed on December 31. The timing is especially difficult for Delgado, because he was just six months away from qualifying for a pension from the city.
"Just let me get vested and I will be more than happy to pack up my troubles and leave," the officer said in an interview with USA Today. "This is the thing I've been working toward for 10 years and to be six months shy then fired "” it's like, 'Wow!'"
Residents of the small community of Eatonville were outraged by the decision, and survivors of the shooting spoke out in Delgado's defense at a heated city council meeting.
Angel Colon, who was shot six times during the attack before Delgado pulled him out of the building, spoke out about the officer's firing at a recent city council meeting.
"He was my hero," Colon said at the meeting. "He saved my life, and for them to just do what they're doing in front of my face, it's a slap to my face as well."
"To be at work with PTSD, it's something that's impossible, but at the same time, you can't just throw him out like that. He needs help," he added. "He was there. He did his job that night on June 12, so they should have his back 100 percent, totally, and be there for whatever he needs."
The town council did vote to pay out some of Delgado's sick days, which will add up to about $1,200 before taxes. Delgado, a married father-of-three, is already facing a 20 percent cut to his pension because of the dismissal, and will also have to wait 10 years before receiving any payments.
Eatonville's mayor, Eddie Cole, says he can't discuss details of the officer's case because of privacy laws, but said "some pictures are bigger than we all know."
Delgado is asking Florida's lawmakers to stand up for first responders with PTSD. and in the meantime he plans to apply for disability. He's also set up a GoFundMe fundraiser to cover his medical costs.
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