Six employees fired at West Palm Beach Juvenile Detention Center where teen died in July

Mom of deceased teen speaks out

Officials at the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) said they are holding the West Palm Beach Juvenile Detention Center accountable for the July death of 18-year-old Eric Perez and have announced the firing of six employees Tuesday.

Perez was was serving a probation violation at the detention center when he was found dead in his cell on the morning of July 10. Hours before he died, Perez was seeking help for a headache and vomiting.

Two top officials -- the detention center's superintendent and assistant -- were fired after a six month investigation found that the department's policies and procedures were not followed.

DJJ secretary Wansley Walters said four detention center officers will also be fired.

"We will not tolerate employees who violate policies and procedures that are in place to protect the health and welfare of our youth," DJJ secretary Wansley Walters said in a press release. "DJJ employees have since been retrained on policies and procedures for the appropriate management of youth in our detention facilities."

The six employees are:

  • Superintendent Anthony Flowers (terminated Tuesday)
  • Assistant Superintendent Patricia Hammond (terminated Tuesday)
  • Juvenile Justice Detention Officer Marlon Jarrell
  • Juvenile Justice Detention Officer Christian Lewis
  • Juvenile Justice Detention Officer Alberto Rios
  • Juvenile Justice Detention Officer Darrell Smith

Maritza Perez, Eric's mother, said she believes justice will be done and that living without her son has been awful.

"I just went Christmas without my son," Perez said. "Instead of being home with a Christmas tree, I was at the cemetery with my other kids on Christmas Day."

The DJJ released a statement saying that employees have been retrained in the appropriate way to manage youth who are in custody.

They say they will work to find alternatives for youth who are in trouble, so they don't have to go into the system in the first place.

"In the long term, we remain committed to implementing meaningful reforms that comprehensively improve how we serve the youth in our care and all our stakeholders," Walters said.