A Letter from Gregory Tony

Friends,

Most of you have probably seen the news covering what is probably the most difficult and painful experience of my life. When I was 14 years old, growing up in a dangerous neighborhood in North Philadelphia known as the Badlands, filled with gun violence, drugs, and gang activity, I had to shoot an armed man in self-defense. Some are speculating about an incident that occurred over 27 years ago, but they were not there. They did not witness the terrified 14-year-old boy who felt his and his brother’s life were in mortal danger try to protect his family. In Pennsylvania, juveniles are not arrested, they go through a petition of delinquency before a case is adjudicated. The juvenile justice system reviewed my actions and concluded there was no crime and cleared my name.

The impact of this shooting was devastating for me, but it was also an eye-opening experience for me to get out. Many who didn’t became another statistic ending up dead or in prison. I worked hard every day from that time forward to leave the violence that surrounded me in Philadelphia behind. Surviving this assault inspired me to do work to help others. The world is filled with violent individuals and it requires brave men and women to protect the innocent against their actions. This is the essence of law enforcement and it’s why I have dedicated my life to it.

I understand how politics work and that this 27-year-old story is coming up in an effort to depict me as nothing more than a 14-year-old black kid with a gun. This incident has never and will never impact my ability to do my job. If anything, I understand better the thousands who fall victim to gun violence each year. My background is what has inspired me to serve the community I love and always fight for justice. I took on this job to protect and serve this community and I am committed to continue doing so. Our accomplishments during the past 15 months are a clear indication of what can be done when you put law enforcement over politics. This community deserves better than political agendas and people seeking to benefit themselves.

My last thought is that young men and women need to know they should not allow their circumstances or their environment determine what they will become in life. They are in control of their own destiny, as long as they work hard and fight for what they want. That’s what I have been doing my whole life. I am proud of the work we’ve done at the Broward Sheriff’s Office and I know we can continue serving the community with professionalism and accountability.

Thank you for your continued support.
Sincerely,

Sheriff Gregory Tony

Correcting the Record

CLAIM: The assailant was friends with Gregory Tony.

FACT: Hector Rodriguez lived in the same neighborhood as Gregory Tony, but they were not friends. He was involved in drugs and criminal activity, and always carried a gun. During the incident, Hector chased the fourteen-year old Gregory Tony and his brother into their house—in fear for his life, Gregory grabbed his father’s gun and fired it before Hector was able to shoot his gun.

CLAIM: Gregory Tony changed his name after the incident.

FACT: On his birth certificate, Sheriff Tony’s full name is ‘Gregory Scott Tony’. A newspaper clipping from the incident in 1993 mistakenly lists his name as ‘Gregory Scott-Toney’, which was a media error.

CLAIM: Gregory Tony lied about his arrest during his application to be a law enforcement officer.

FACT: Under Pennsylvania law, juveniles are not arrested; they go through a petition of delinquency. Additionally, Sheriff Tony never committed a crime, as it was self-defense.

CLAIM: Some media reports quoted that Gregory Tony killed the assailant in cold blood.

FACT: There are quotes from locals speculating on what may have happened. They were not there. They did not witness the terrified 14-year old boy who thought his and his family’s life was in mortal danger try to protect that family. Almost thirty years ago, the authorities examined what happened and cleared Sheriff Tony’s name. The juvenile system already found that Gregory Tony was protecting himself and his family from a violent, armed drug dealer.