A former police officer who responded to the scene of the Pulse nightclub shooting is filing suit against the city of Orlando and Orlando Police Department, alleging “harassment and retaliation” after he filed for worker’s compensation for his PTSD and hypertension.
Maitland attorney Geoff Bichler, of the law offices Bichler, Oliver, Longo and Fox, told News 6 that [Garry] Realin was harassed and intimidated by at least seven Orlando police employees, including Chief John Mina.
Realin was part of the hazmat team assigned to remove bodies from Pulse Nightclub on June 12, 2016. His doctor said he was unable to return to work at the department because of PTSD.
“We feel that the facts are very clear and compelling that there was harassment and retaliation almost from the time Mr. Realin came forward,” Bichler said.
“The lawsuit argues that after Realin filed for workers’ compensation benefits for his PTSD and hypertension, he was ‘repeatedly harassed, intimidated, threatened with discharge and coerced’ by Orlando Police Department employees,” News 6 continued, noting that the department has previously denied the allegations.
Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Law forbids retaliation. Realin—who does receive permanent disability benefits, but has seen his monthly medical coverage costs multiply five times since leaving the force—is seeking $1 million in damages. Realin’s wife Jessica told the outlet that the lawsuit is meant to pressure the department “to change PTSD policies and medical coverage for all first responders.”
The news comes the same week that another first responder—police officer Omar Delgado, one of the first people on the scene, credited as a hero for his work guiding out survivors—is being dismissed from the Eatonville Police Department a mere six months before hitting pension eligibility.