One of the five Department of Juvenile Justice officers fired last month in connection with the death of a 17-year-old detainee had been disciplined three times in the past by the agency, including a recent three-day suspension for “poor performance, negligence [and] inefficiency or inability to perform assigned duties.”
Detention officer Demetrius Randolph, who was fired by the agency on Sept. 8, had been suspended on June 1 for poor performance; had received a written reprimand on Oct. 12, 2012, for poor performance, violating an agency rule, and conduct unbecoming; and had been suspended for one day in July 2009 for poor performance, negligence, and inefficiency or inability to perform assigned duties. Details of the three disciplinary actions are not available.
Last month, Randolph was among five juvenile justice officers — three of them supervisors — terminated by the agency in the wake of the death of 17-year-old Elord Revolte, who had been in the Miami-Dade Regional Juvenile Detention Center for a few days on armed robbery charges. Both police and DJJ say Elord was jumped by about 20 other detainees. He died of his injuries a day later; he was not sent to a hospital until just before his death.
Neither Randolph nor three other officers could be reached by the Herald on Thursday evening. The others are: supervisor Jeremy L. Dollard, supervisor Marquise McEady, and supervisor Joshua A. Washington. Officer Utanda Green declined to comment. The officers have three weeks to file an appeal with the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission, a state agency that settles disputes between public employees and employers. They also can file a union grievance, though they cannot do both.
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Letters mailed to the five officers, obtained Thursday evening by the Miami Herald, show all of the staffers were fired for “extraordinary circumstances.” Specifically, the letters state, the employees were terminated for poor performance, negligence and an inability to perform assigned duties.
On Aug. 30, the letters say, Elord was placed in “medical confinement.” Other records show the teen was isolated after being badly injured in a melee in Module 9 of the lockup, at 3300 NW 27th St. While in confinement, the letters say, Elord should have been observed by staff every 10 minutes. “You failed to conduct all required 10-minute checks during your shift,” Randolph’s letter says.
“Employees shall strive to perform at the highest level of efficiency and effectiveness; they shall do more than ‘just get by’ ,” the letters say.
On Wednesday, a DJJ spokeswoman said the five employees also “appear” to have falsified agency records pertaining to the 10-minute checks that did not take place.
The Herald has requested personnel records for the employees; the spokeswoman said it is not clear when the documents will be available.
Both Miami-Dade police and DJJ are looking into the circumstances of Elord’s death.
“Miami-Dade police still have an open criminal investigation,” a DJJ spokeswoman, Heather M. DiGiacomo, said Thursday evening. “We have an open inspector general investigation into the death. If those investigations come back with information that employees did not do what they are supposed to do, we will hold them accountable. But those investigations are still open.”
“It is very clear that we take these things very seriously, and investigate, and we will hold staff accountable when there is wrongdoing,” she added.
DJJ initiated a separate inspector general probe Wednesday when the Herald reported that lawyers for juvenile delinquents in both Miami-Dade and Broward counties, as well as a Miami Beach foster mother who has fostered several delinquent youth, had repeatedly been told that lockup guards had offered bounties of “honey buns” and other contraband food to youths willing to beat up other kids.
“We take those allegations seriously. They are appalling,” DiGiacomo said Thursday. “We opened an investigation immediately into those allegations. We look forward to those investigations being completed , and if there is wrongdoing by any staff, they will be held accountable for their actions.”