Perry L. Jones Jr. wanted an easy night on the graveyard shift. A 16-year-old in his custody wanted to gab with his roommate.
Their bedtime test of wills, an arrest report said, left the teen with marks on his neck that were “consistent with being choked,” a swollen cheek and a laceration under his nose — and sent Jones to the Broward County Jail.
On Aug. 1, 2012, youth counselor Jones was walking a hallway trying to get the youths to go to bed. The 16-year-old, who had been sent to the Department of Juvenile Justice-licensed Lippman Youth Shelter by his parents, cursed at Jones, called him a “security guard,” and, Jones said, “swelled up to him ... standing in his face” according to a report.
Both the teen and a staffer said that provoked Jones to choke the youth until he very briefly stopped breathing — which then led to an all-out battle. Jones won the fight, but lost his job.
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office arrested Jones, then 27, on charges of child abuse and aggravated battery. Prosecutors charged him with simple battery.
Jones told deputies he was trying to get the detainees to go to sleep when he passed by the 16-year-old’s room. The youth called him ugly names, and said “he will be running this show.” When the boy got in his face, Jones pushed him to his bed, and tried to restrain him. The teen then took a swing at him.
The youth told Department of Juvenile Justice investigators and police that Jones wrapped both hands around his neck and squeezed. After he came to, the teen chased after Jones and punched him in the head. Jones’ colleague that night, Collongie Weems, told police that Jones then sat on top of the boy, “pinning his arms to the ground. Jones then started to punch him in the face several times.”
Surveillance video confirmed the youth’s description of what happened. Jones was later acquitted, however.
This narrative is part of Tales from the Front, a collection of short stories about Florida's juvenile justice system. The Miami Herald investigated the state's youth corrections system following the 2015 beating death of a Miami-Dade detainee. Read the full "Fight Club" investigative series here.