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Police Department Harassment Exacerbated Pulse First Responder’s Anxiety, Prevented Him From Working, Attorney Says

Gerry Realin, left, was diagnosed with PTSD after responding to the Pulse Night Club shooting. Jessica Realin wants Florida's workers' compensation laws to cover the condition. Photo: Abe Aboraya, WMFE

The attorney for a Pulse first responder blames the City of Orlando and Orlando Police Department for exacerbating the officer’s anxiety, preventing him from returning to work.

The first responder accuses the city and police department of harassment and retaliation in a lawsuit filed Friday.

Gerry Realin was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after spending five hours inside of Pulse taking care of the 49 left dead in the 2016 mass shooting.

His attorney Geoffrey Bichler says the harassment and retaliation were because of the diagnosis. He says Realin wanted to return to work.

“Simply because of the fact that he was No. 1 diagnosed with this condition and then No. 2 his condition was exacerbated over time by the way the city managed this and OPD managed this it made that return impossible.”

He says the city and police department ignored doctors’ recommendation that they leave Realin alone during his recovery. Officials say they are committed to first responders’ well-being.

Bichler says the officer’s struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder and harassment is emblematic of what many first responders experience.

“There is a sensitivity to the issue with our combat veterans, but for whatever reason we haven’t put this together with our first responder community.”

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Amy Green

About Amy Green

Reporter and Producer

Amy Green covers the environment and climate change at WMFE News. She is an award-winning journalist and author whose extensive reporting on the Everglades is featured in the book MOVING WATER, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, and podcast DRAINED, available wherever you get your podcasts. Amy’s ... Read Full Bio »