ORLANDO, Fla. - A former Orlando police officer who spent hours inside Pulse nightclub immediately after the attack that killed 49 people in 2016 has sued the city, saying he was forced to retire due to post-traumatic stress disorder caused by that night.
Gerry Realin claims that instead of providing him help to work through his PTSD, the city forced him to retire.
“Mr. Realin saw things that no person should have ever had to see in the course of an almost five-hour cleanup inside the Pulse nightclub,” attorney Geoff Bichler said. “He had a severe psychological reaction, and the city really turned their back on him almost from the beginning.”
In a statement, the city said Realin was provided with all the resources that were available.
"The Orlando Police Department offered unlimited resources in an effort to facilitate Mr. Realin's recovery and return to meaningful employment,” the statement said. “While Mr. Realin was unable to come to work, he was offered counseling and was paid his salary for over a year.”
A year after the Pulse nightclub attack, Realin “voluntarily requested a full disability pension, which the city granted,” the Orlando Police Department said in a statement. “As a result, Mr. Realin receives 80 percent of his salary tax-free, plus health insurance, for life.”
Realin claimed that he was continually harassed at the department and sued because of the extra emotional toll.
“Our preference would have always been that Gerry Realin would have gotten the medical care he needed and returned to his career,” Bichler said. “That is what he wanted to do.”
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