Attorneys for Orlando firefighter call motion to block reinstatement 'hysterical ranting'

Counterargument asks arbitrator to deny city's motion

Former Orlando firefighter Joshua Granada.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Attorneys for the Orlando Professional Fire Fighters Local 1365 argued Monday the city's motion to deny Josh Granada's reinstatement contains "hysterical ranting" that included the assertion that arbitrator James D. Stokes overlooked the fact that the firefighter was charged with two third-degree felonies.

Stokes has remained silent on the city's Oct. 14 motion that called on the veteran arbitrator and mediator to reverse the reinstatement decision.

Attorney Matthew J. Mierzwa Jr. argued on behalf of the union that the city "cites no legal authority for its argument that (Granada) is not entitled to reinstatement and back pay restoration of other losses."

Maitland attorney Geoff Bichler, who has previously represented Granada, said last week the city's assertion was simply wrong.

"There are no 'pending felony' counts and this is just a continuing outrage compounding the damages already suffered by Mr. Granada," he said.

Sources close to Granada told WKMG News 6 that he is currently in a pretrail diversion program expected to be completed Jan. 20.

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

Granada was removed from his post as EMT Fire Fighter after he recorded Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill during an emergency response to the Double Tree Hotel on Aug. 27, 2017.

Hill told News 6 she viewed the arbitrator's original decision as a "double slap in the face."

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 and 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 pretrial diversion for charges stemming from the recording.

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

"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 argued that until Granada resolves the pending charges "he is not eligible to return to his position as a fire fighter, nor is he eligible for any back pay."

Granada continues to reserve comment on his pending reinstatement.

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.