Wednesday, March 21, 2018

First State Witness Officer Adam T. Gruler

 There is some sensitive content and disturbing details included within. If you feel you may be affected, please do not read this post.

Adam T. Gruler testified in the Noor Slaman case at the Orlando Federal Courthouse. He is currently a Special Agent with Orlando Police stationed in the canine unit at the Orlando Airport. At the time of Pulse he was a Special Agent in the Traffic Homicide and Motors Unit. Before coming to Orlando Police Department he was in the military police for 5 years and so has 22 years in total of being a police officer. His shift started at 11 pm on June 11, 2016 and was supposed to end at 3 am on June 12 at Pulse Nightclub as an off-duty officer in full uniform.

Exhibit 119 was brought in to evidence – a map of the block Pulse Nightclub is on with Pulse shaded in green and block drawn with the location of Omar Mateen’s rented van. Gruler pointed out where his vehicle was parked, on the grass curb in front of the front doors of Pulse across the street from Dunkin’ Donuts on Esther Street. At 2:02 AM he heard gunfire from inside the nightclub and immediately called, “Shots fired, shots fired” over his CB.

Exhibits 105 and 105A were CD recordings of the audio recordings and transcript as an accurate depiction of his radio activity that evening. It was played for everyone before the prosecution broke it down into pieces to ask questions. “Shots fired, multiple down.” Gruler explained the series of three tones as being an alert for Signal 43 which serves to notify others that immediate assistance is needed by an officer.

Gruler was expecting a typical nighttime night club shooting in which a specific individual is being targeted. From 22 years as an officer, he knew that the weapon being used was a long-barreled assault rifle and he only had his regular handgun on him, he was out gunned and alone. He quickly called for a perimeter, assuming the assailant would take off and try to flee. Then, “Go ahead and get chase up.” a call for the helicopter and then a street canine to assist them in apprehending the shooter.

Gruler than saw the shooter from outside, he took cover behind cars outside. The south side double doors flung open and two men came running out and were gunned down. One immediately and one after he had made it a bit. Gruler fired at the gunman. The shooter retreated into the club and went towards the north. Gruler took up a position to get to the doors. Government Exhibit 108 accepted into evidence – Dash camera video of responding officer that shows Gruler. He engaged the suspect a second time and attempted to shoot him.

Additional officers began to arrive and they worked to formulate a plan. Planned to approach and make entry through the patio, some officers went that way, though Gruler ultimately did not. He went through the front large window. He stated he was unclear about what time it was at that point. He could see that multiple people were down, some alive, some very obviously not. There was blood everywhere and they had to step over the bodies as they tried to check for signs of life, trying to rescue people while also trying to find and contain the shooter. They weren’t sure where the gunman was as he had retreated back to a bathroom by the back bar.

The triage area was set up on the South East corner of Orange and Kaley by Einstein Bagels and that is where they were directing people to go. Victims were being put into law enforcement vehicles, specifically a black truck, and being transported to the hospital just up the street. There were no ambulances as fire and rescue protocol states that those individuals wait until police give the go ahead and have the shooter contained, as they are no good to anybody if they are dead. Multiple reports were coming in, reports that their might be more than one shooter. Gruler was brought back to command at 2:45 AM to begin providing his report.

The defense began examining Gruler. Exhibit 119 brought back up (a map of the block Pulse is on) and Gruler again pointed out where his unmarked Dodge Journey police car was parked. Stated he has worked at multiple clubs in Orlando but for the past 18 months to 2 years he had worked at Pulse and was usually the only one on duty. Reiterated that he was parked on the grass curb area. When he arrived for his shift the club promoter had told him he knew there was an under 18 individual who had gotten in with a fake ID. Gruler brought him out and began to talk to him, the individual ran off and taunted him from across the street. Gruler got in his car and drove around about 20 minutes or so attempting to find him, but didn’t. When he returned he placed his car in the same location it had been. Defense asked a lot of questions about whether or not the officer could see Omar Mateen’s vehicle from where he was located, whether he had or had not seen Mateen enter or exit the club. He stated he had not to all of the above. Court adjourned for lunch.

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