ORLANDO, Fla .– Former Orlando Police Officer Jonathan Mills showed no signs of improper health when he applied to become an Orlando Police Officer at age 29, according to his attorney.
“His cardiac stress tests and ECG showed no abnormalities,” said attorney Randy Brown.
This was only the beginning of the argument from Brown, who represented Mills in the March Pension Board hearing process to determine whether the former officer qualified for a disability pension.
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Mills had previously been terminated by the ministry. The union agreement obliges the ministry to proceed with the dismissal if an application for a disability pension has been pending for more than 180 days.
Mills got two extensions due to inevitable COVID-19 delays. The ministry signed two 45-day unpaid leave extensions, and the second ended at the end of January. The chief refused a third request, which led to his final dismissal.
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This did not affect whether he could receive an invalidity pension. The pension council, however, rejected his request at its March meeting, citing insufficient evidence to prove he had full and permanent injuries.
âThe problem for the claim is that the fractured hand, much like the 2018 issue, was not a permanent disability,â Deputy City Attorney David Margolis said at the hearing.
Mills was named Officer of the Year in 2018.
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But he is also charged with racial prejudice, repeatedly sanctioned for misconduct involving the use of force, and has been named in lawsuits that have led to more than $ 100,000 in deposits in the city coffers.
His lawyer told the pension board that in 2018 Mills was injured in several incidents while on duty and that same year he began to have heart problems. And then the following year there was another altercation where he was injured.
âIncluding a broken hand, a scraped right arm, as well as pain in his right knee,â Brown said.
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The town’s lawyer argued that the heart and hand problems were not total and permanent injuries, so he is not eligible for the disability pension.
âWhat happened in 2018 clearly didn’t turn it off permanently. We know that because [the doctor] cleared him to return to full duty a few weeks later and, in fact, the Applicant resumed full duty. The plaintiff even testified that he returned to the downtown bicycle unit and the special enforcement division which are two of the most demanding roles in the entire department. He worked for a year and a half and worked thousands of hours according to his own testimony, âsaid Margolis.
The biggest dispute during this pension board hearing is about the differing medical opinions, which will likely be the focus of any testimony during this appeal process. Applications for certiorari are usually reviewed by a panel of three circuit judges.
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Judges have the option of granting oral argument or declining oral argument and simply reviewing written arguments. New evidence is generally not allowed in this type of proceeding. Instead, judges will review the transcripts to determine whether Mills has benefited from due process and whether the pension board’s findings are supported by competent evidence.
If Mills were given due process and if the board had a rational factual basis to conclude that Mills was not definitely and totally invalid, then the judges will dismiss the petition.
On the other hand, if the judges find that Mills was denied due process, or that the Board’s findings were totally contrary to all the evidence, then the judges can demand a new pension hearing or even order the Commission to grant an outright invalidity pension. .