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DJJ targets six employees for dismissal over teen’s death in lockup

Florida juvenile justice administrators have fired two detention center employees from West Palm Beach — and initiated actions to fire four others — five months after they were linked to the death of an 18-year-old youth at the lockup.

The lockup’s top administrators, Superintendent Anthony Flowers and Assistant Superintendent Patricia Hammond, both were fired Tuesday.

The agency also began the process of firing four guards, the department announced in a news release Tuesday.

“We will not tolerate employees who violate policies and procedures that are in place to protect the health and welfare of our youth,” said Wansley Walters, a former Miami juvenile justice chief who has been DJJ’s secretary for the past year. “DJJ employees have since been retrained on policies and procedures for the appropriate management of youth in our detention facilities.”

“We continue to extend our deepest sympathy to the Perez family during this difficult period,” Walters added.

The Palm Beach Juvenile Detention Center will be managed by Superintendent Daryl Wolf of the Broward Juvenile Detention Center and Superintendent Kevin Housel of the St. Lucie Regional Juvenile Detention Center until a permanent replacement is found, the agency said.

The firings are in response to the death of 18-year-old Eric Perez, “after a thorough review of the facility’s operations and management,” the agency said. His death remains under investigation by the agency, the West Palm Beach Police and the State Attorney’s Office.Eric died shortly after 8 a.m. on July 10, after spending several hours retching and complaining he had monstrous head pain. Guards and supervisors didn’t call 911 until it was too late.

In addition to Flowers and Hammond, the agency intends to fire:

• Officer Marlon Jarrell

• Officer Christian Lewis

• Officer Alberto Rios

• Officer Darrell Smith

Keep reading the story here.

-- Carol Marbin Miller, Miami Herald staff writer