Three years ago, Ron DeSantis cashiered Broward County sheriff Scott Israel over the Parkland school shooting scandal. DeSantis may now need to fire his hand-picked replacement. A new scandal involving an undisclosed juvenile homicide has demands rising for DeSantis to fire Gregory Tony, especially since the homicide may not have been as justified as first adjudicated:
After the Florida Commission on Ethics found probable cause to believe Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony “misused his public position” when he allegedly lied to get his first job at the Coral Springs Police Department, a report obtained by Local 10 News casts doubt on his self-defense claim in a 1993 shooting.
It was May of 1993 when the then-14-year-old Tony shot and killed 18-year-old Hector Rodriguez in an inner city Philadelphia neighborhood. Tony was arrested and eventually found not guilty.
Investigators said Tony failed to disclose the arrest on his 2005 application in Coral Springs. …
But witness statements in the report contradict Tony’s claim that Rodriguez was armed at the time. Witness accounts read that Tony shot and killed an unarmed Hector Rodriguez six times, with two of the shots to the back of the head, before he took off running.
Tony argues that there was never an arrest, but that’s not true. Tony was arrested, charged, and prosecuted at the time, although found not guilty based on court testimony at the time. As a juvenile, his record got sealed and the charges expunged, but that doesn’t mean the arrest and trial never happened.
It also didn’t mean the fight never happened either, another point on which Tony allegedly lied, and that he failed to disclose prior drug use as well as other legal issues:
In February, the FDLE report said it discovered Tony failed to disclose that he killed someone when he was teenager in Philadelphia claiming self-defense, or acknowledge his past drug use and that his driver’s license was suspended several times.
Tony answered no when asked whether he’d ever been in a ﬁght where a weapon was used. He also answered no when asked whether he’d ever injured or caused the death of another person. Tony stated that “ﬁghting” was the most serious thing he’d ever done in his life.
But according to the report, the FDLE discovered that Tony was arrested on charges of murder and illegal weapons possession when he was 14 years old in 1993. Tony was tried for the murder of an alleged drug dealer in a Philadelphia neighborhood where he lived at the time.
At that time, DeSantis was caught up in his political fight over the Parental Rights in Education bill. The Tony scandal went into the background for a while, but it’s re-emerging now. DeSantis will have to make a decision at some point if the FDLE maintains its findings. The FDLE and the the Florida Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission (CJS&T) could decertify Tony as a law-enforcement officer, but all that does is strip him of the authority to make an arrest. The position of sheriff is an elected political office, and either the voters or DeSantis would have to remove him.
Just to sweeten the pot a bit, another claim of Tony’s involvement in an undisclosed juvenile crime has also emerged, via Law Enforcement Today:
Victim Placed Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony At Scene Of Stabbing Over Drug Debt Hours Before Deadly Shooting In Philadelphia https://t.co/3gJYivDcjz
— RED BROWARD (@RedBroward) September 18, 2022
Even without this new allegation, Tony’s position seems untenable. While his juvenile record was sealed for most other purposes, hiding involvement in a juvenile homicide and other crimes in applying for a law-enforcement position is difficult to shrug off. That’s especially true for DeSantis after his removal of State Attorney Andrew Warren for his public pledge to refuse to enforce the law.