FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Florida’s top law enforcement agency confirmed it has begun a preliminary investigation into Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony. The sheriff’s campaign released a statement Friday acknowledging the investigation saying that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) is following its “usual protocols.”
The preliminary investigation by FDLE comes after a week of scrutiny after it was first reported that Broward’s top cop, as a teen, shot and killed an 18-year-old man, in Philadelphia. However, the incident was not revealed by him, except privately, during his career climb in law enforcement, which raised questions.
Then came the release on FloridaBulldog.org of an affidavit signed by the sheriff under oath.
The FDLE affidavit, signed by Tony in January of 2020, asked in Question No. 4. “I had a criminal record sealed or expunged.” Tony checked the box “False.”
Gregory Tony’s campaign, in a statement, said: “Sheriff Tony filled out the form correctly. The FDLE form specifically asked whether he ever ‘had a criminal record sealed or expunged.’ The Sheriff has never had a criminal record.”
A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said that the complaint is under review. “During a review, we look at all documents to determine if the complaint is within the purview of FDLE and if it is actionable by FDLE. During a preliminary investigation, we start to obtain documents and conduct research,” Jessica Cary, Office of Public Information, FDLE, said in a statement sent to Local 10.
It is not clear who filed the complaint alleging Tony made misstatements about his past on legal documents.
A statement from Sheriff Gregory Tony’s campaign said: “FDLE is following their usual protocols when a complaint has been filed.”
As reported by the FloridaBulldog.org, a 14-year-old Tony shot and killed 18-year-old Hector Rodriguez in Philadelphia.
The story by the watchdog news group stated that the incident, on May 3, 1993, resulted in Tony first being charged as an adult, but that the homicide trial moved to juvenile court, where records are not public, and where those charges were eventually dropped. The shooting was labeled self defense.
Tony went on the record, speaking to Local 10 at BSO headquarters. “There was no crime, no arrest and this was considered a self-defense case, as it should have been,” Tony told Local 10.
Cary said that the FDLE investigation involves “research and gathering documents and/or information in response to an allegation or complaint.”
Once the information is evaluated, according to FDLE, investigators will decide if there is reason to move forward for a full criminal investigation. FDLE would not comment on specifics since, they said, the case is active.
“Whether I’ve said it in an interview or saying it right now, this is not something that I’m afraid to speak about in public," Tony told Local 10. "But the reality is, in an application process, when you’re coming in for an employment, one, it doesn’t require you to bring it up, and two, I don’t want to be some 14-year-old black kid who survived a shooting. I don’t want to be someone’s victim.”
Tony told Local 10 that the spat with Rodriguez was a “violent encounter.”
“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 said, calling it an act of self defense.
Tony believes the release of the nearly three-decades old story is politically motivated because he is running for election in 2020 to keep his post as Broward County Sheriff and this is a way to smear his name. “It’s being used as a political tool,” he told Local 10.