DELAND, Fla. - A DeLand officer terminated in 2018 over an excessive force incident is back on the force effective Monday.
Johan Mulero was fired after the city said he mistreated and wrongfully arrested a DeLand resident during a 2017 disturbance call.
At the time, the resident, Allan Kidd, told FOX 35 the officer tore his shirt and gave him a black eye. Kidd ended up getting a settlement from the city.
Mulero has been reinstated following an appeal. The city said an independent arbitrator ruled to give Mulero a two-year unpaid suspension, instead, and is requiring him to go through training.
The city tells FOX 35 the decision was made based on technicalities.
"In our view, he received a fair investigation but there were some technical things the investigator had to do… Basically, didn’t dot all of his 'I’s and cross all of his 'T’s," said city spokesperson Chris Graham.
Here is a statement from Officer Johan ("Joey") Mulero and his law enforcement officer union, the International Union of Police Associations (IUPA):
"Our firm is privileged to represent the International Union of Police Associations (IUPA), and its member police officers and deputies in Volusia County. On behalf of IUPA and Officer Mulero, we are obviously very happy for him and his family that an unbiased neutral Arbitrator saw that Officer Mulero was not afforded a complete and fair investigation as required by Florida law; and that while the City had just cause to discipline, termination was excessive based on the underlying facts. The Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights under the Florida Statutes are a fundamental assurance of due process for our men and women in law enforcement. They, along with our firefighters and servicemen and women in the military, deserve the very same level of due process and fairness that is afforded to the citizens that they protect. Officer Mulero worked hard to become a law enforcement officer and enjoyed protecting and serving the public. He looks forward to resuming his career as a police officer after this long process and returning to serve the citizens of DeLand."
Graham said the city stands by its investigation and its initial decision to terminate the officer, calling the system flawed.
"It’s unfortunate that decision was made, but he’s our officer now and we’re going to support him, and he’s going to have to go through a lot of training to make sure this doesn’t happen again," he said.
FOX 35 has reached out to the attorney for the officer.