Orlando officer shot in helmet at Pulse shooting testifies at pension hearing

Orlando Police Pension Board grants disability pension in 4-1 vote

By Nadeen Yanes - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Inside a small board room at Orlando City Hall, Officer Michael Napolitano testified for the first time about the post-traumatic stress disorder he is suffering since a bullet struck his helmet in the Pulse nightclub shooting on June 12, 2016. 

Since then, Napolitano's attorney said he was assigned limited duty but at the recommendation of his psychiatrist did not come back to the department as he continued to get treatment. 

Napolitano saying he received treatment from UCF's Restore program, instated purposely after the Pulse attack to help first responders and member of the military. However, after he testified it was too hard to complete it. 

"She tried to have me do some treatments that I was not able to do at the time," Napolitano said.

"Such as going to places on campus like Starbucks and sitting with my back to the door... I tried it I wasn't able to do it." 

After what was seemingly a tough line of questioning for Officer Napolitano, he testified he was drinking up to five times a day after the shooting. 

"That was a tough time for me, I was dealing with a lot," he said. However, he added, "That hasn't been an issue for me for over a year now."

After tough questioning from one board member, Randy Fields, Napolitano asked for a break. He never returned to the table. Instead, his attorney finished the hearing for him. 

The board then took a vote. With four "yays" and one "nay" by Fields, Napolitano was granted disability pension. That will include 80% of his base pay which kicks in Oct. 1. 

"I think it's very clear based on everything here there is no other options and this is a deserved disability case," said chairman of the Pension Board, Jay Smith. 

Shawn Dunlap, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 25, said it was tough to watch Napolitano testify Monday. 

"To see him now versus what I knew him before, it was difficult to see him like that," Dunlap said. "He's been out of work for quite some time and this will bring closure to him and his family."
 

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