The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice announced today that it is firing six people who work at the Palm Beach Regional Juvenile Center in West Palm Beach in the wake of Eric Perez’s death. The 18-year-old died last July while in custody there. The department says it is no longer able to wait until Palm Beach County State Attorney Michael McAuliffe concludes his probe into what happened on July 10. The media have not reported at this time whether or not Perez’s family plans to file a Florida wrongful death claim.
Perez was in lockup on a marijuana possession charge. According to the Miami Herald, a detention center healthcare log indicated that even though the teenager threw up and screamed all night, a nurse did not examine him until 7:51 am in the morning (Perez also reportedly began hallucinating that an imaginary person was on top of him. Also, during the course of the night, guards tried to ask another nurse for “guidance” but she didn’t answer the phone). Perez was pronounced dead by paramedics at approximately 8:10am.
DJJ Secretary Wansley Walters reports that not all of the six who are being fired have been directly linked to Perez’s death. Some terminations are in the wake of the examination into detention center operations.
Three people who were fired, Albert Rios, Christian Lewis, and Darrell Smith, are accused of procedural violations on the night that Perez died. According to Rios, the guards “engaged in unauthorized physical contact or horseplay” with Perez because it was his 18th birthday.
If you or someone you love sustained serious injury or became sick while in police custody and law enforcement officers did not do enough to prevent the injury or provide the necessary medical care, you may have grounds for a West Palm Beach personal injury case. It doesn’t matter whether or not a crime was committed. You still have certain rights and protections whether or not you are behind bars and charged with/convicted of wrongdoing.
State officials fire 6 West Palm juvenile detention workers in connection with teen’s July death, Palm Beach Post, December 28, 2011
Lockup’s medical log details teen’s death spiral, Miami Herald, July 20, 2011
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Contact David J. Halberg, PA and ask to speak with an experienced Palm Beach personal injury lawyer.