Eatonville awards officer suffering from PTSD disability pension

By Erin Murray, Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, December 08, 2017, 11:53 AM EST

Cpl. Omar Delgado, the Eatonville police officer who was hailed a hero for his actions during the Pulse attack, will be offered his full pension after all.

The town of Eatonville announced Thursday they would give Delgado a disability pension right away, or he could wait until he reaches between the ages of 52 and 55 to receive his full pension.

"One of the retirement programs that Cpl. Delgado is eligible for does provide him the full benefit, now six months of additional employment will not change that, and will not affect his pension benefits,” said Jacintaq Mathis, Eatonville Town Council's attorney.

This decision came after controversy because Delgado has only been an officer for nine and a half years. Most pensions kick in at 10 years of employment.

“Corporal Delgado will receive his full pension benefit, regardless of his less than 10 years of employment with the town of Eatonville,” said Mayor Eddie Cole.

But Delgado’s lawyer Geoffrey Bichler said pension talk is premature.

“The better approach from our perspective is to provide full care and treatment. Let a person make full recovery and then ultimately determine whether or not they can continue in law enforcement,” said Bichler, managing partner at Bichler, Oliver, Longo & Fox, PLLC.

Because that is Delgado’s true hope, to not be fired. Instead, he hopes to get well enough to work again. But for the last several months, he has been on light duty because of his post-traumatic stress disorder.

“The city should provide continuing care and treatment until we reach a point where we know whether or not he is going to be able to continue as a police officer,” said Bichler.

Delgado's actions, and the subsequent decision by the town to let him go attracted national attention. He responded to the terror attack in June 2016 at the Orlando nightclub and saved several people, including Angel Colon, who was shot numerous times.

But Delgado was unable to return to street patrol because of his PTSD. The Eatonville Police Department announced Delgado's last day would be Dec. 31, 2017.

At a town council meeting Tuesday, officials would not comment on why Delgado was being let go. They voted to pay for 50 percent of his accrued sick leave.

Among the people at that meeting was Colon himself.

Colon said he was at a loss for why the department would fire Delgado.

"He did his job that night, he rescued lives. He saved my life. And for him to be in this position right now, it just doesn't make any sense," said Colon.