A former juvenile boot camp guard who was exonerated by a jury in the death of a teenager was offered a new position with the Bay County Sheriff's Office but turned it down, the sheriff said.
Sheriff Frank McKeithen responded Saturday to a lawsuit filed by Charles Helms Jr. the day before. Helms claims his due process rights were violated when he was fired.
Helms seeks a court order for the Sheriff's Office to give him a proper notice of the allegations against him and an opportunity to respond. His lawyer, Danielle Joyner Kelley, said Helms is not seeking reinstatement or monetary damages at this time.
Helms was among seven former Bay County Juvenile Boot Camp guards and a camp nurse acquitted by an all-white jury in October in the 2006 death of Martin Lee Anderson, a black 14-year-old.
Jurors agreed with defense attorneys that the black teen died of complications from sickle cell trait, a previously undiagnosed blood disorder. Civil rights leaders have continued to push for federal charges against the eight.
McKeithen said Helms was not fired for cause, as everyone at the boot camp was laid off when it shut down.
But Helms was a certified law enforcement officer with the Sheriff's Office, not an employee for the Department of Juvenile Justice, which ran the boot camp, Kelley said Sunday. As a deputy being paid by the Sheriff's Office, Kelley said, Helms was entitled by law to a reason for his dismissal.
After the boot camp closed, some former employees applied for and received jobs with the Sheriff's Office, McKeithen said.
Helms was the only employee involved with the Anderson case to inquire about a job with the Sheriff's Office after last year's acquittal, McKeithen said.
Helms was offered a job in the office's communications division, McKeithen said.
"He was offered a dispatcher's job," Kelley said.
"It had nothing to do with law enforcement."