In a gross miscarriage of justice, one of the first police officers to respond to the 2016 terrorist attack at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, will soon lose his job. The officer, Corporal Omar Delgado, has suffered post-traumatic stress disorder since the attack. Despite moving from patrol duty to a desk job, a doctor has concluded that Delgado’s condition renders him unfit to remain on the force. Adding insult to injury, the hero police officer is being fired just months before he would qualify for full pension benefits.
“It’s a small town,” explained Delgado. “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.” Unfortunately, his town of Eatonville has struggled financially, as the 2,000-member community tries to support a small police department. Rather than receiving 64% of his $38,500 salary and benefits for life, Delgado will have to wait ten years and then only be eligible to receive 42% of his salary.
Florida state lawmakers are considering a bill that would require workers compensation programs to include mental health treatment coverage for first responders with PTSD, but prospects are dim for Delgado. A similar law proposed last year failed even to make it to the floor for a vote. The Eatonville Town Council has offered Delgado $1,200 in accrued sick time, but that payout won’t get the suffering officer very far. Mayor Eddie Cole defended the decision, saying, “This town, as well as me, cares about people. But some pictures are bigger than we all know.”
Angel Colon, a Pulse nightclub attendee whose life Delgado saved by dragging him through the carnage to safety, feels the betrayal personally. “He was my hero,” Colon explains. “He saved my life, and for them to just do what they’re doing to him in front of my face is a slap to my face as well.”
In July, a woman named Kelly Anderson Kutcher set up a GoFundMe page for Officer Delgado to offset the costs associated with his injuries.