The Orlando Police Pension Board granted early retirement benefits to an officer diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after the Pulse nightclub massacre during an emotional hearing Thursday.
Doctors determined 37-year-old Officer Gerry Realin was “permanently disabled from performing duties as a law enforcement officer.”
The board voted unanimously to approve his pension, which gives Realin 80 percent of his $70,000 salary for life.
“I feel like a big weight has been lifted off our shoulders,” said his wife, Jessica Realin.
Gerry Realin did not attend Thursday’s hearing because his doctors said it was not in his best interest. He was represented by his wife and lawyers.
A lawyer for the city, Steven McKillop, argued against Realin receiving an early pension, saying it was too early in the treatment process to declare him permanently disabled.
McKillop also argued there were “inconsistencies” in what Realin told his doctors.
One was the fact that seeing red triggered his PTSD, but a New York Times photo of him and his wife showed her wearing a red dress and it didn’t seem to bother him, McKillop said.
McKillop also said Realin’s doctor’s notes indicate he “made up his mind” that he wanted an early retirement just a few months after the attack, before he had a chance to get better.
At one point, Jessica Realin stormed out of the meeting because she was upset. “It was hard to hear my husband’s credibility being attacked,” she said afterward.
Pulse nightclub owner Barbara Poma spoke at the meeting in support of Gerry Realin.
“Just because you can’t see his injuries does not mean they are not there,” she said.
Gerry Realin was on the team that removed the bodies from Pulse after 49 people were gunned down and dozens more injured on June 12, 2016.
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Red Huber / Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Police Officer Gerry Realin
Orlando Police Officer Gerry Realin (Red Huber / Orlando Sentinel)
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