Gov. Rick Scott honors Orlando SWAT officer shot during Pulse attack
Michael Napolitano's Kevlar helmet stopped bullet, saving his life
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – An Orlando police SWAT team member whose helmet stopped a bullet during the Pulse nightclub attack was honored Tuesday by Florida Gov. Rick Scott during his State of the State address along with other law enforcement agents who responded to the mass shooting on June 12.
Scott said during the address that he is proud to call Officer Michael Napolitano a Floridian for his bravery on the night of the attack at the gay nightclub.
"Amid the horror and terror of that night, we also saw what bravery and heroism (look) like," Scott said.
Napolitano was shot at while attempting to get into the nightclub and free those who were hiding from 29-year-old gunman Omar Mateen.
"Without fear or hesitation, Officer Napolitano and his fellow SWAT members confronted the terrorist, and during the standoff, his Kevlar helmet stopped a bullet, which saved his life," Scott said.
Napolitano was one of 11 officers who shot at Mateen. He was slightly injured from the hit and received several stitches to his head, according to Orlando police.
Orlando police tweeted a photo on June 12 of the SWAT team member's helmet showing the damage.
Orlando police Chief John Mina and Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings were also present during the State of the State address.
Scott thanked the Central Florida law enforcement leaders for keeping families safe during the Pulse attack.
"Chief Mina and Sheriff Demings, you and your team of brace law enforcement officers have kept families safe and secure. On behalf of all Florida families, please tell your officers and deputies that we are proud of them and job well done," he said, while emphasizing how important it is for officers to have the resources they need to fight crime.
Scott said after the attack, he attended funerals and spent time victims and their families.
"I was sitting with one mom who recounted her son's last 48 hours on earth. How he died a hero because he tried, he died trying to save a friend's life," Scott said. "I met with an injured victim whose TV was turned off in his hospital room. His family needed to wait to tell him that his partner had been killed and didn't want him to find out from the news."
Equality Florida, an organization that advocates for gay and lesbian rights, said Scott's words weren't enough.
"This morning we heard from Governor Rick Scott about the Pulse tragedy. But what we didn't hear was a single acknowledgment that the Pulse massacre was a direct attack on LGBT floridians," public policy director Hannah Willard said. "Thoughts and prayers are not enough. LGBT Floridians deserve action, and we are disappointed that the Governor chose to disregard the very real pain of the LGBT community here in Florida."
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