ORLANDO, Fla. – An Orlando firefighter who was terminated after he recorded audio of Commissioner Regina Hill while responding to a call has been reinstated with back pay.
Joshua Granada said he was called to the Penthouse of the Double Tree Hotel on Aug. 27, 2017, and found Hill unresponsive in a room littered with liquor bottles and cigarette butts. Once she was revived, she became combative, he said.
"It was cursing, cursing, cursing, 'I hate you. You're trying to get me in trouble,'" Granada said at the time. "'I hate all of you firemen,' and that's what I heard and I swear to you, I still didn't know who she was."
He said he recorded a 30-second audio clip to prove he and the other first responders weren't doing anything wrong in their response.
Granada, who was named the 2017 co-Firefighter of the Year for his response during the Pulse nightclub shooting, was fired for violating privacy expectations.
After his termination, Granada filed a civil lawsuit claiming he was only fired because the city didn't want provide him workers' compensation benefits for his post-traumatic stress disorder.
A federal mediator that heard the case recently ruled that Granada's termination should be vacated because department policy didn't expressly prohibit recording during calls.
According to the documents, a lieutenant who became aware of the recording had to research department records in order to find a memorandum from 2009 that said a firefighter should obtain oral consent from a supervisor at the scene before creating any recordings.
The mediator ruled that a 240-hour suspension was appropriate but a termination was not, and the Orlando Police Department did not believe the case rose to a criminal level.
Granada will receive back pay, minus the 240 hours, and get his job back.
"It's almost like a double slap in the face," Hill told News 6. "He betrayed the trust of all of our citizens when he illegally recorded myself on one of the calls for medical attention."
She said this is not over.
"I will be looking into this (further) to see what rights I still have as a victim because victims have rights also," she said.
According to court records, Granada was ordered to pre-trial diversion for charges stemming from the recording.
If he completes it in six months, the charges will be dropped.