Gov. Ron DeSantis is widely renowned for his longtime support of Florida’s Latino community and his steadfast, strong advocacy for law enforcement.
Those two priority values currently intersect at the doorstep of Maury Hernandez.
Hernandez, a heroic former Broward County Sheriff’s Office deputy, is a double victim — of violent crime and of gross bureaucratic incompetence that enabled a criminal to commit near-deadly violence.
Under the administration of former Gov. Charlie Crist, a felon duped an incompetent state bureaucrat. The provisions of felon David Maldonado’s probation clearly dictated that he is not allowed to carry a firearm — and that’s the law, too. Yet, the probation officer assigned to Maldonado knowingly allowed him to carry a gun. In fact, Maldonado admitted having a gun, and still, nothing was done.
Later, Maldonado was seen by then-BSO Deputy Hernandez speeding through red lights, endangering countless innocent people. Hernandez was working on an unrelated investigation when he saw Maldonado.
He took off in pursuit anyway. That’s what law enforcement people do when they see trouble.
After catching up and then engaging in a chase on foot, Hernandez was shot in the face when Maldonado turned and fired at him — in the face. With a gun he was wrongly allowed to carry.
Hernandez was 28 years old at the time. His entire life was in front of him. He was getting a law degree. He had big plans. It all came to a crushing end because of government, and bureaucratic incompetence.
Hernandez is severely disabled. He nobly tried desk duty back at the BSO but was physically unable. His medical bills were — and are — astronomical. He is unable to work. Every day is a challenge.
But instead of leading efforts to help, the government has fought the Hernandez family at every turn. It’s surely like being victimized all over again. All of Hernandez’ lost career earnings were dismissed.
Maury Hernandez is a hero in many communities — Broward, Florida, the nation, law enforcement and Hispanic communities as well.
And his pre-shooting story is that of the American dream. He came from Cuba as a child, was a college graduate with an “A” average and decided to dedicate his early career to serving and protecting the public in law enforcement. His job is to help protect the people of Broward County, including many of the businesses our Chamber represents.
Hernandez’ dream is in stark contrast to how his life has turned out. After the shooting, he was in a coma for three weeks, had countless surgeries — including three on his brain — and survived on a ventilator. It’s a miracle he is alive.
But his reward has, sadly, been relentless opposition from the state government agency whose negligence led to his tragic shooting.
Now, finally, there is a path to justice. HB6003 and SB20 have been introduced in the Florida Legislature. Dade Republican Reps. Tom Fabricio and Alex Rizo and Port Orange Republican Sen. Tom Wright are sponsoring the bills, which would finally make things better and right for the Hernandez family.
The Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which represents the interests of more than 604,000 Hispanic-owned businesses, strongly urges Gov. DeSantis to do what he’s probably planning to do anyway — signal his support for HB 6003 and SB 20. That would make all the difference — to right a wrong that occurred long before the governor took office.
The Hernandez family deserves and needs justice. We’re hopeful our law enforcement-loving, Hispanic community-supporting Governor is ready to deliver nonpartisan justice that would resonate across the land.
Julio Fuentes is the president of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, fshcc.com.