Reinstated Orlando firefighter who recorded Regina Hill facing pushback from city

Motion argues pending felonies should block decision to reinstate Josh Granada

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.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The city of Orlando filed a motion to the arbitrator in the Josh Granada-Regina Hill case to reverse his decision to put the ousted firefighter back on the job and pay him $200,000 in lost wages. 

The motion obtained by News 6 asks arbitrator James D. Stokes to "find that the city had just cause for termination," because Granada still has two pending felony charges.

Sources close to Granada said that he is currently in a pre-trial diversion program expected to be completed on Jan. 20, 2020.  

"The record will be sealed and expunged," the source said.

According to his website, Stokes has been a member of the National Mediation Board since 2016 and is a member of both the Florida and California bar.

He did not respond to News 6's request for comment.

Orlando Commissioner Hill told News 6 she viewed the original decision as a "double slap in the face."

Granada was removed from his post as EMT firefighter after he recorded Hill during an emergency response to the DoubleTree Hotel on Aug. 27, 2017.

Days after the incident, Granada told News 6 Hill was unresponsive when the EMT team arrived at the hotel Penthouse.

"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."

Granada said he made the 30-second audio clip as insurance just in case Hill suggested the first responders were taking advantage of her.

Documents show there were liquor bottles and cigarette butts across the carpet. Hill was on the floor.

Granada was named the 2017 co-Firefighter of the Year for his response during the Pulse nightclub shooting.

Stokes ruled that a 240-hour suspension was appropriate but termination was not, and the Orlando Police Department did not believe the case rose to a criminal level.

According to court records, Granada was ordered to a pre-trial diversion for charges stemming from the recording.

Granada wrote a letter of apology to Hill dated Sept. 6, 2019. He wrote:

"Ms. Hill, I whole heartedly apologize for my actions on August 27th, 2017. I understand that incident caused you a great deal of stress. It was not my intention to cause any undue anxiety upon you or your family.  I promise you there was no malicious intent in my actions, my only thought was to defend myself and my crew.  Again, I apologize for my actions and wish you well."

The city argues that until Granada resolves the pending charges, "he is not eligible to return to his position as a firefighter, nor is he eligible for any back pay."

Granada has declined comment on the new motion.

About the Author:

News 6’s Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld has made Central Florida history with major investigations that have led to new policies, legislative proposals and even -- state and national laws. If you have an issue or story idea, call Mike's office at 407-521-1322.