ORLANDO, Fla. - An Orlando police officer who responded to the shooting massacre at Pulse Nightclub last year has been granted early-retirement benefits after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The city pension board granted the benefits to 37-year-old Officer Gerry Realin after a hearing Thursday.
The board was given the task to decide whether Realin was permanently and totally disabled because of what he experienced inside the gay nightclub on June 12, 2016, when 49 people were shot and killed in the largest mass-shooting in United States history.
At the center of the argument was Realin’s disability pension, which is 80 percent of his salary, WFTV’s Cuthbert Langley reported.
Realin’s attorneys argued that he was diagnosed with PTSD after he was tasked with helping to remove the bodies of those who were murdered inside the club.
“Every doctor says, ‘No ability to return with accommodations to police service,” his attorney said during the hearing.
Realin wasn’t in attendance at the Thursday hearing at the advice of his doctors, who said it was not in his best interest to attend.
As a city attorney argued that Realin was just looking for any reason to leave the force, Realin’s wife had an emotional outburst and needed to excuse herself.
But in the end the board unanimously agreed that Realin should receive the disability pension.
“It’s just overwhelming to know that this chapter of our lives is closed,” Jessica Realin, Gerry’s wife, said.
Currently, Florida state law only allows police departments to pay officers an early pension for physical injuries. Jessica Realin tried to get that law changed, but was unsuccessful.
The board will be able to revisit Realin’s condition in 10 years.
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