Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis defends decision to appoint BSO Sheriff Gregory Tony while distancing himself from re-election campaign

DeSantis says he won’t be involved in Tony’s attempt to keep his job

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – During a press conference discussing the coronavirus pandemic, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was asked about Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony.

When he was a teenager, Tony was involved in a fatal shooting, an incident that he confirmed to Local 10 News on Sunday.

The story was initially published Saturday by watchdog news group Florida Bulldog that revealed he shot and killed a man in 1993.

DeSantis was asked if knowledge of the shooting would have made a difference in his choosing of Tony to replace former sheriff Scott Israel.

"I don’t think it would’ve, because it was self-defense," the governor said. "It did not come up in the background check because he had never been charged.

The sheriff called it a "violent encounter" that he and his brother were involved in. Tony shot and killed 18-year-old Hector Rodriguez when Tony was 14 and living in an inner-city Philadelphia neighborhood.

“Unfortunately, we had a dispute with him — my brother and me — in front of our home and he made threats to kill us and he literally pulled out a gun. He had no problem with shooting us right there,” Tony told Local 10 on Sunday, calling it an act of self-defense.

On Monday, DeSantis seemed to distance himself from the sheriff while explaining his reason for appointing him.

"It’s not like he’s my Sheriff, I didn’t even know the guy," DeSantis said. "it’s not like he was a political ally of mine; i wasn’t trying to do that. I was just trying to do someone who had done a good job. I liked the fact that he had come from real tough upbringing."

DeSantis also said that he been hearing good things about the job that Sheriff Tony is doing in Broward County, but did not mention the recent no-confidence vote held by a deputies’ union, which found that 88% of the 768 ballots cast had no confidence in Tony.

“it seemed like he had the leadership, and people have been very pleased, the people I’ve talked to in Broward, have been pleased with what he’s doing, but that’s ultimately a decision the people in Broward can make,” DeSantis said, adding that when it comes to Tony’s re-election bid, “That’s not going to be anything I’m going to be getting involved in.”

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