Broward Sheriff defends not divulging that he fatally shot a man as a teenager

Gregory Tony
Gregory Tony(Wilfredo Lee/AP)

A Florida sheriff is facing backlash on the eve of his reelection bid after a local news outlet revealed that as a teen, he fatally shot a man who was aiming a gun at him — and did not say so on his job application 12 years later.
Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony, 41, said the shooting was in self-defense, that no charges had been filed, and that since he’d been exonerated in juvenile court, he did not have to divulge the information when he applied for police work in South Florida.
Thus he did not disclose information about the shooting either when he applied to the Coral Springs Police Department or when he was appointed to his position as sheriff last year by Gov. Ron DeSantis, the local investigative news site Florida Bulldog reported Saturday.
Tony was 14 when the May 3, 1993, shooting went down. It happened at his family home in the Badlands neighborhood of Philadelphia, an area known for its violence and open-air drug dealing at the time, the Associated Press recounted. Tony and his brother argued with 18-year-old Hector Rodriguez, a drug dealer with a criminal record, who was allegedly carrying a gun.
Rodriguez, according to Tony’s account, pulled out a gun and chased him and his brother into the house. Tony says he grabbed his father’s revolver and shot Rodriguez several times in self-defense.
“When I was 14 years old, growing up in a neighborhood in Philadelphia filled with violence and gang activity, I shot an armed man in self-defense. The juvenile authorities reviewed my actions and cleared my name,” Tony told Florida Bulldog. “This was the most difficult and painful experience of my life and I have never spoken of it publicly. I worked every day from that time forward to leave the violence that surrounded me in Philadelphia behind.”
Nevertheless, the former Coral Springs Police chief who hired him in 2005 said that information would have nixed Tony’s chances at a spot in the department if he’d known about the incident.
“I would not have hired him,” retired Coral Spring Police Chief Duncan Foster told the South Florida Sun Sentinel in an exclusive interview on Monday. “All things being equal, there are more qualified candidates who did not have involvement with the criminal justice system to the extent that he did.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Tony as sheriff after Scott Israel was ousted for the department’s handling of two mass shootings, one in 2017 at the Fort Lauderdale airport and the second at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, in 2018, as CNN describes.
DeSantis distanced himself on Monday from his appointee when asked by a reporter. He also defended the lack of transparency, reported the Miami Herald, while expressing sympathy for the environment Tony had apparently grown up in.
“It seems like he was in a very rough neighborhood and he was trying to defend his family, but it’s not like he’s my sheriff,” DeSantis told reporters, according to the Herald. “I don’t even know the guy.”
The revelation roiled the runup to the Democratic primary scheduled for Aug. 18. Tony is up against the ousted Israel, among other candidates, according to the Sun Sentinel. Given Broward’s Democratic bent, “the winner of the primary is almost certain to win the November general election,” the Sun Sentinel said.
Tony did not lie on his application, the Sun Sentinel showed in records. He answered honestly “no” to the question of whether he had ever been charged in a criminal investigation, because a self-defense shooting does not involve a criminal charge.
Analysts agreed that the omission is what could undermine public trust, while Tony believes that bringing this out now means his political opponents are “trying to retry a 14-year-old black kid,” he told the Sun Sentinel.
“There’s nothing that I had ever done that was a crime,” he said. “Do you walk into an interview and express being a 14-year-old victim, or do you go in and speak on the 27 years of professionalism that you’ve established?”


  1. This is a political lynching. The man went by the book. His detractors want to change the rules in the book. Where's the justice in this?

  2. Parkland was fake. Nobody died.

  3. That police chief who claimed he would not have hired the guy? Because of his "involvement" in the legal system? What a dirtbag.


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