Corporal Omar Delgado of the Eatonville Police Department (six miles north of Orlando, Florida) was one of the first police officers to come to the Pulse nightclub on the morning of June 12, 2016 as a shooter began a spree that would kill 49 people and wound 58 others.
At the time, the shooting was still in progress and Delgado was able to rescue Angel Colon, a person who had been shot several times. Later on, Delgado sorted through the bodies strewn about the nightclub and the experience left him with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a nervous condition that has made him unable to resume his street patrols.
Omar Delgado feels nervous and trapped whenever he goes into restaurants or bars. The sound of 4th of July fireworks remind him of the gunfire at Pulse. He regularly has nightmares about the shooter and awakens screaming, sweaty and unable to fall back asleep.
Delgado has since worked a police department desk job and is now being fired from his job on Dec. 31, 2017, just six months before becoming eligible to receive his full pension (the investment fund he earned while working nearly 10 years on the force).
On Tuesday, the Eatonville Town Council voted unanimously to dismiss the 45-year-old corporal from the police department and pay him $1,200 (before taxes) in accrued sick time. Headlines were outraged at Delgado’s firing and seeming loss of pension.
However, Eatonville Mayor Eddie Cole announced Thursday that the city will award Delgado his full pension despite him being six months shy of fully vesting it. When he turns 55, Delgado will receive 64% of his salary with benefits annually for life.
In a statement, Cole said:
Following the recent actions surrounding Corporal Omar Delgado employment with the Eatonville Police Department, Mayor Cole will clarify that Officer Delgado will receive his full pension benefits according to existing policy options regardless of his less than ten years employment. An additional six months of employment will not change his retirement benefits. Mayor Cole and Town Council are committed to working with all the staff (family) during challenging times while protecting and serving the community in which they serve.
Regardless, both Delgado and Cole agree that the town of Eatonville has an obligation to take care of its officers and care for their mental health.
Delgado said, “It’s a small town and we’re like a family. You don’t just throw a family member to the street. They’re acting like a Fortune 500 company and saying since you can’t do your job, we’re going to replace you. Even if the world saw me as a hero, that was yesterday.”
Colon told WFTV (video above), “He was my hero. 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. He did his job that night on June 12 so they should have his back 100% totally and just be there for whatever he needs.”
Delgado had set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money for psychological counseling. Delgado plans to apply for disability, but is worried about the financial stability of himself, his wife and their three kids now that he’s out of a job.
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