Parkland, FL – A sheriff’s deputy who was caught sleeping on the job at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School about a month after the mass shooting has now been fired.
Moises Carotti had worked for 18 years for the Broward Sheriff’s Office when he fell asleep March 19 while working at the high school, according to the Orlando Sun-Sentinel.
He was originally recommended for a 10-day suspension, which would be the normal level of punishment for falling asleep on the job.
However, the sheriff fired him due to the highly public nature of his nap, according to police records.
“When assigned to provide safety at a school in the aftermath of 17 people being shot and killed at the school, he denigrated the public’s opinion of all BSO deputies by shockingly and inexcusably falling asleep in his BSO patrol car,” an internal affairs report stated, according to the Orlando Sun-Sentinel.
The nap made national headlines as U.S. Senator and former presidential candidate Marco Rubio chimed in.
“Of all the schools in America, you would think this would be the safest one right now," said Rubio, R-Fla., according to USA Today. "This is so outrageous it’s almost impossible to believe.”
Carotti said he was fired over politics and the union will appeal the firing to an arbitration board. Carotti said he was taking over-the-counter medication for flu symptoms that day, according to the Orlando Sun-Sentinel.
“I understand I made a mistake. It was an unfortunate mistake,” Carotti said, according to the Orlando Sun-Sentinel. “I thought all of the good deeds I’ve done would have counted for something.”
The internal affairs report said that Zachary Cruz, the brother of the Parkland shooter, illegally came onto school grounds earlier that day. That created chatter over the police-radio system that ended about 25 minutes before Carotti was found sleeping.
The Orlando Sun-Sentinel stated that the Cruz incident ended at 4:50 p.m. At 5:15 p.m., a student found Carotti asleep in his squad car. The student flagged down Broward Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Greg Lacerra and pointed to the sleeping Carotti in his squad car and shouted, “Is this how you guys do stuff here at BSO?”
Sgt. Lacerra confirmed that Carotti’s eyes were closed and this his head was tilted downward as if he was asleep, according to the internal affairs report.
A YouTube video was playing on Carotti’s laptop when he was found but the police report didn’t specify what he was watching.
When Sgt. Lacerra banged on the squad car door, Carotti jumped up and woke up, according to the report. Carotti apologized for falling asleep.
The internal affairs report stated that Carotti has been suspended three times since 2016 for job performance failures. Carotti earned $75,670 a year. He was also commended for getting rid of trespassers sleeping in unoccupied lifeguard towers at a beach.
He also received commendations for stopping a sexual predator from groping young girls who were at the beach as well as catching a purse snatcher at a Starbucks, according to the Orlando Sun-Sentinel.
Carotti told investigators he felt more sick than tired and that he should have called in sick, but he said he was worried about how that would look.
Jeff Bell, president of the local International Union of Police Associations, said that he is confident that Carotti will win an appeal and get his job back. Bell said that a corrections guard fell asleep four days in a row during training sessions and received just a two-day suspension.
“The punishment does not fit the charges,” Bell said, according to the Orlando Sun-Sentinel. “The sheriff clearly used the specific location as a reason to enhance the punishment.”
Carotti told investigators that he was playing the YouTube video so he could calm down after a stressful personal phone call. He calmed down too much, however, and fell asleep, according to the internal affairs report.
“Deputy Carotti conceded there was nothing which prevented him, when he started feeling drowsy, from getting out of his car and walking around, as he had been told to do so,” the internal affairs report stated, according to the Orlando Sun-Sentinel.